Electronic shelf labels come of age

Although available for many years, UK supermarkets have shown little enthusiasm for electronic shelf labels (ESLs), unlike many of their counterparts around the world. The reason for the limited take-up, despite the many advantages that ESLs offer over traditional paper labels, has been the relatively low quality of the solutions available.

However, this is now changing as a growing number of the biggest and best-known UK retailers and their customers are poised to benefit from a new generation of ESLs.

The easy-to-deploy and centrally managed labels enable retailers to control and drive in-store pricing and promotions with speed, agility, and consistency. Fully graphic and available in three colours, the labels offer far superior image quality and technical capabilities, such as the option of integrated Bluetooth low-energy beacons, and are already playing a prominent role in creating more interesting, interactive and engaging experiences in the store of the future.

“There’s real momentum behind ESLs today. We have designed our ESL solution to meet the needs of the modern retail enterprise and we are excited to continually develop our solution in partnership with our tier-one customers,” says Andrew Dark, CEO of Displaydata, the world’s leading provider in the design and supply of fully graphic three-colour electronic shelf labels.

Displaydata was the first to introduce a fully graphical three-colour label with print-quality image, to deliver pricing and promotions that catch the attention of customers. The company recently signed a contract with Kaufland Group, which has more than 1,250 stores and is part of the Schwarz Group, owners of value grocery chain Lidl among others.

The key drivers for this trend, according to Mr Dark, are transparency and integrity.  “Retailers want to earn consumer trust – that means matching the reality of pricing with what they say in advertising.  But updating labels is a laborious task that is unloved by staff,” he says. “There’s now a simple realisation that the challenge involved in trying to price match with a paper-based system across several hundred if not thousands of supermarkets is just not humanly possible.”

With the growth of omnichannel retailing, the same is true of maintaining consistent pricing across a website and stores. “Online you’ve just got one price to change, but it’s more challenging to make that same change in hundreds or thousands of bricks-and-mortar stores,” says Mr Dark.

“It’s about timing and accuracy. With no-limits pricing, you can price as quickly and accurately in-store as you can online, ensure prices are consistent across channels and build confidence with customers that they’re getting the best price, availability and service – always. What’s more, dynamic pricing makes it easier to price by events, time of day and store location, respond to competitors’ activities, clear overhanging stock and reduce waste.”

Displaydata’s wireless network is completely secure, while its intuitive but robust software enables centralised management of any number of labels across any number of stores from a single server at the company’s headquarters. Instead of replacing pieces of paper on shelves, staff can be redeployed to help customers and to maintain inventory levels in displays.

Tier-one retailers around the world that use Displaydata’s technology appreciate the software’s ease of use and its ability to connect to central enterprise resource planning (ERP) and data sources.

A number of Displaydata’s customers are also looking at how to use its labels with low-energy Bluetooth beacons to send personalised offers to customers’ smartphones at the moment they’re thinking about a purchase. In the always-connected world of the internet of things, ESLs are integral to deploying price and promotional strategies in engaging ways that appeal to today’s tech-savvy customers.

Over the last few years, Displaydata has been entirely focused on exports thanks to the rapidly growing demand for its ESLs around the world, which are widely acknowledged to be the clearest, brightest and most eye-catching on the market. But now that has changed.

“Until now, Europe has been 10 to 20 times ahead of both the UK and the US, but as a home-grown success story, we’re pleased to be finally helping more UK stores succeed,” says Mr Dark. “With retail continuing to be evermore competitive and shoppers demanding more from physical stores, UK retailers have realised that ESLs offer a new way to drive sales, protect margin and reduce costs.”

For more information please visit www.displaydata.com