To find someone who hasn’t seen a retail security tag in use would be no easy feat. These pieces of technology have become a cornerstone of security systems in stores all across the world. 

Despite their widespread success, however, relatively few consumers actually know how these items work — much less how many different security tags there are on the market.

Retailers and service workers may be more familiar with the variety of different security tags. If you’re new to the world of retail, you may be looking for reasons to choose one kind over the others. If you need some help comparing and contrasting the different security tags, here’s an overview of the pros and cons of our favorite kinds.


Hard Tags

When you think of security tags, hard tags are probably the kind that pops into your head first. These tags are widely used, and for good reason: they’re affordable, strong, and fairly effective. 

The tough plastic shell makes them a real challenge to remove forcibly — especially without causing damage to the product. Because they require a special tool to remove, shoppers will need to pass the item through the checkout process. If an active tag passes through the sensors at the store’s exit, an alarm will be triggered.


  • These tags act as a theft deterrent by their very presence. The size and shape make them noticeable, prompting shoplifters to look for an easier target.
  • Hard tags are sturdy and reusable, making them a more cost-effective solution for long-term use.
  • The false alarm rate for modern hard tags is relatively low.


  • These items can be bulky and ugly and don’t work for self-checkout options. This may deter some customers from making the purchase.
  • Hard tags run the risk of causing damage to more fragile merchandise during attachment or removal.
  • Even with the specialized tool for unlocking, removal can sometimes be challenging. This will likely require some training on the part of your staff.


RFID tags are quickly becoming a common favorite among the different security tags available today. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, a more advanced version of the typical tag detection system. They are often used in stores with high-volume inventory such as grocery stores.


  • RFID tags can be read remotely, reducing the need for staff to conduct individual item checks.
  • These tags help to keep track of item supplies, making inventory management a breeze — especially for locations with broad selections, like department stores.
  • RFID tags are typically less visible than hard tags, which can help to preserve the aesthetic appeal of the products they track.


  • RFID tags can sometimes be more expensive than different security tags.
  • The tags themselves require more extensive systems to read and monitor, which require upfront installation investment.
  • The effectiveness of these tags depends heavily on their successful application; improperly attached tags may result in interference with readings.

Ink Tags

Though less common than other kinds of security tags, ink tags make an excellent deterrent against shoplifters and can even provide some means to catch repeat offenders in the act. Ink tags contain a small vial of (you guessed it) ink, which is designed to burst if the tag is forcibly removed. The ink is meant to stain the tagged product, making it unusable, unsellable, or, at the very least, more trackable. 


  • Ink tags make an excellent deterrent, but will render the products unusable if they are recovered after theft.
  • These tags are often inexpensive when compared with alternative security tag types.
  • Installation is relatively easy, as the tag’s success does not depend on maintaining a clear signal or reading.


  • If misused, ink tags can result in quite a mess (and probably an expensive one, too). This will require training with staff for proper handling.
  • Even if properly installed, there is always the risk, albeit minor, of unforeseen damage or malfunction causing the ink to release.
  • Unlike hard tags, ink tags are not reusable. This may result in some larger expenses over time rather than a hefty initial investment.

Different Security Tags for Your Unique Store

As you can see, there’s no shortage of different security tags on the market. Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, making it all the more important for you to make an educated decision.

Choosing the right security tag for your retail store depends on a variety of factors, from your merchandise selection to your company’s budget. 

At Product Protection Solutions (PPS), we offer many kinds of security tags to improve anti-theft measures across all types of retail markets. To learn more about the best security tags for your store, get in touch with the experts. We’ll be happy to help you find the perfect fit for you.

To learn more about different security tags, contact PPS today.