Extra protection

Extra protection

Neil Matthews identifies the key advancements in security labelling


The Global Retail Theft Barometer, published by the Centre for Retail Research, reveals that thieves are increasingly targeting small, high-value items, such as cosmetics products.

Because shoplifters look for items that are small, easy to conceal and have a high resale value, cosmetics and premium alcohol brands are particularly at-risk.

Fortunately, there’s a strong correlation between the attractiveness of these items to thieves and the innovativeness of the retail security industry in creating solutions to prevent shoplifting, including increasingly sophisticated labels devised specifically for smaller goods.

Of course, there are less innovative ways to tackle the problem, such as placing all merchandise behind cabinets under lock and key. However, it’s likely that this would so greatly detract from the shopper experience that any money saved through preventing theft would be cancelled out through loss of sales.

Today’s time-poor consumers want to pick up and interact with products without having to wait for a member of staff to find a key for a cabinet.

Importantly, advancements in retail technology mean products can be protected against theft, without detracting from the shopper experience, with goods able to be displayed safely in an open environment. 

A challenge retailers have faced historically is that many security labels aren’t an appropriate size for smaller high-theft items, which would mean retailers risked obscuring expensive brand pack designs. When you consider that packaging is often designed at great cost with the express intention of making products desirable to consumers, it is clear that ensuring branding isn’t covered up with a label is an important step in boosting profits.


Furthermore, it is important not to obscure key information such as ingredients panels and allergy warnings, which could result in legal ramifications; in this case it is undeniably crucial that a more appropriate label is used.

If a retailer is forced to choose between ensuring a high-theft item is adequately secured or that its key branding messages aren’t obstructed, this is clearly an unacceptable compromise, which is why more advanced labels are so crucial.

Thankfully, technological advances mean retailers no longer have to use a large security label in order to ensure a good detection rate. Indeed, it is now possible to secure a small cosmetics item with a security label the size of a postage stamp.

A further valuable solution becoming increasingly popular is source tagging, which involves labels being applied to a product’s packaging during the manufacturing process. Not only does this help to ensure important information isn’t covered but it also means staff are free to focus on selling items rather than labelling them, because products arrive shelf-ready. 

These developments in labelling technology and the way labels are applied are indicative of a wider trend in our industry – innovation is meeting important business needs.

Developments in labelling technology are not noteworthy merely because they’re more technologically advanced, but because the technology can make a real difference to businesses’ bottom lines. 

The ability to present items safely in an open environment is key to boosting sales, especially for retailers displaying goods where aesthetic appearance is paramount.

The impact of shoplifting on a retailer’s bottom line really cannot be underestimated. Firstly, a stolen item obviously can’t be sold, meaning the retailer loses the profit on its potential sale. Additionally – and the reason why the real losses incurred could be far greater than this – is the effect that stolen items can have on shopper behaviour.

For instance, a customer who finds the item they were looking for might continue to browse the store and pick up something else. However, if the item the potential customer entered the store for is missing because it’s been stolen, they are likely to simply leave the store.

Furthermore, it is important to factor in how a missing item could affect a shopper’s future buying habits – they may be put off returning to the store and instead choose to spend their money with retailers that reliably stock the items they’re looking for.

It’s clear, therefore, that the development of more advanced security labels Is business critical. Labelling technology is ensuring products are not only more secure but also more effectively serve a branding purpose. Profits are protected by preventing theft and boosted by marketing items more effectively.


Holly Aston