RFID-based EAS Q&A

RFID-based Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) is a technological method for deterring and detecting the theft of consumer goods. The goal of RFID-based EAS is to leverage the benefits of the EPC (Electronic Product Code) and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) for EAS functionality including visibility, improved inventory tracking, and process productivity. Recently, the GS1 released the Strategic Overview Guide and Technical Implementation Guide for EPCglobal RFID-based Electronc Article Surveillance (EAS) for reusable and disposable tags. With this guide for RFID-based EAS comes a lot of questions, some of which are answered below:

How do companies use RFID-based EAS?
Companies that use RFID-based EAS typically encode EPC numbers onto RFID tags to identify their items within the supply chain and retail settings.

What abilities do RFID-based EAS bring to manufacturers and retailers?
For retailers, RFID-based EAS provides an easier way for store clerks to manage inventory and assist customers, making shopping more convenient and stocking shelves easier. In addition RFID-based EAS is a great detector of theft.

In a manufacturing environment, a RFID-based EAS system can use one tag that secures the product while identifying the product uniquely, regardless of the retail partner. Manufacturers also gain visibility into the retail environment since they are able to protect their brand from counterfeiting in addition to knowing which store their products went to.

How are RFID tags used?
The RFID tags used are based on the EPCglobal Gen 2 standards and are attached to an item or an item’s packaging. The tags are able to be removed easily after purchase and can be reused or disposed of. Today, most companies are using an array of EAS and EPC tags such as swing tickets, hard plastic tags and labels. Once placed on an item, the tags are read by hand-held and/or fixed readers.

What is the role of the EPCglobal in RFID-based EAS?
Since over $100 billon were lost worldwide due to theft and waste in 2009 alone, retailers have felt an impact, which in turn, has impacted manufacturers. By becoming a member of EPCglobal, businesses can access the standards to further develop their processes and register unique EPC Manager Numbers for encoding on the EPC Tags.

Through these standards, both retailers and manufacturers will be able to properly encode RFID tags based on their GS1 Company prefix in order to address overall inventory accuracy issues, supply chain visibility, and theft.

Why are standard-based approaches important for manufacturers and retailers?
Standards are so important for RFID-based EAS because tags applied in one country will be able to pass through a variety of different organizations and on to their final destination, all while the identity of the object is known and authenticated at each read point. Standards allow businesses to maximize efficiency and profitability, all while gaining visibility to the supply chain and lowering inventory costs, which ultimately provides a greater return on investment.

For more information on GS1 EPCglobal RFID-based EAS, download the press release here.