18. May 2022 | Interview, Leading Voices, Retail Technology, Shopping Today

An increasing number of retailers are switching to electronic shelf labels

By Katja Laska (exclusively for EuroCIS.mag)

Paper labels were the standard in retail for a long time. However, they are now gradually being replaced by electronic shelf labels. In this interview, Michael Jørgensen, Division Director at Delfi Technologies, explains the advantages of electronic labels, highlights possible applications and states why paper labels will disappear completely in the future.

 Mr. Jørgensen, why is it worthwhile for a retailer to use electronic shelf labels?

Man in suit with bald head and glasses - Michael Jørgensen; Copyright: Delfi Technologies

Michael Jørgensen // ©Delfi Technologies

Apart from the obvious advantages of electronic shelf labels (ESL), such as paper reduction and staff cost savings, modern tools for sales optimization, for instance software solutions within the dynamic pricing field, are the main drivers, when wanting a more digitalized retail environment. It will also become indispensable when the goods are available to the end consumer, both via online platforms and via bricks-and-mortar sales areas, which is also one of the possibilities with ESL.

 What advantages do they bring, for example, in-store organization (process optimization, automation)?

Additional motivation for the use of ESL is the staff availability, which increases when implementing ESL. All businesses want to use their available resources in the best way possible. When saving staff recourses due to ESL, the staff can use their expertise to provide even better customer service. Furthermore, the variety of running campaigns via ESL gives the daily operations much more freedom and flexibility. Also, the ongoing consolidation process, especially within the food sector, intensifies the activities to attract consumers through different concepts within pricing, promotions, and quality. The more flexible the ESL solution is, the more you stand out compared to the competitors.

In sectors where you refill shelves and pick for click and collect, these operations can be optimized with LED on the displays, that will blink when you need to pick or fill up a product, which make the operations run much faster and easier.

 Do more retailers use such labels and are there new branches?

After the introduction of the third colour in 2015 within electrophoretic display technology, which all manufacturers use today, the development has been exponential and constantly expands, according to the same spreading pattern. If one of the market leaders begins with the integration of the technology, then all other market participants will follow. This is the case in consumer electronics, the grocery trade, and the DIY sector, which is currently about to roll out. Other areas will follow eventually. In a digital world, there is no room for limitations through manual labelling processes. The paper label will disappear across the board.

Electronic labels on a shelf; Copyright: Delfi Technologies

©Delfi Technologies

 What is the technology behind the labels and how have they evolved over the years?

From the most diverse beginnings over 20 years ago, the electrophoretic display technology (also known from the kindle) with a radio-based communication structure in the 868 MHz or 2.4 GHz range has developed as the status quo for the installations.

What does a retailer need to consider if they want to use such labels?

Of course, your well-known processes of changing price labels will change when going from manual paper labelling to digital labelling, but with ESL you are able to do much more than just change prices. Like showing stock availability, use LED on the displays, use colours to signal offers and much more. The possibilities are many and will affect not only your customers’ experiences but also – how I sait before – your daily operations.

Do you want to know more about modern price labeling? If so, you are in the right place at EuroCIS 2022 from May 31 to June 1. This is just one of the many product categories related to Retail Technology.

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