Paul Milner, Marketing Director, Displaydata, explains why Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) are becoming familiar features on grocers’ shelves as they look to price in more strategic, agile and profitable – ways.
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 instore 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. By using electronic shelf labels retailers can:
• Reduce waste: Eighty-eight million tonnes of food is thrown away in the EU and a third of the food in the US. With the freedom to remotely change prices on any shelf in seconds, retailers can graduate pricing based on sales velocity and inventory levels to ensure they reduce waste by the end of the business day, increase sales and protect margins.
• Get ahead: By spotting trends in sales data, and adjusting shelf-prices accordingly, retailers can capitalize on their insights to get ahead of competitors and drive sales.
• Achieve everyday low pricing: With ESLs it’s also easier to react to competitors’ offers – especially important when you consider that ‘best value’ and ‘lowest prices’ are the first and third most important factors in choosing a grocer.
• Transparency and integrity: Retailers want to earn consumer trust – that means ensuring that prices align across channels. It was only a few months ago that retailers were criticised for not ensuring that prices at the checkout matched those on shelves. And with some grocery retailers selling as much as half of their inventory on promotional terms at any point in time, being able to centrally manage the information and pricing on any number of labels, across any number of stores – in seconds – means it’s far easier to ensure price and promotional changes are made quickly and most importantly that this is done accurately. Delivering accurate information and pricing about products builds customer’s confidence that they can budget and plan their shop reliably and leads to a more trusting relationship between th retailer and the consumer.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF ESLs
• Embrace showrooming: With the option to display competitors’ prices, stock availability, social reviews and ratings on labels, you can show customers there’s no better deal elsewhere.
• Reduce material costs: Huge savings are made in paper and ink when replacing old fashioned paper labels with electronic ones. In addition to the material costs, the cost of distribution throughout the store estate is also removed which has a positive environmental impact.
• Improve staff satisfaction and enhance service: ESLs free in-store associates from laborious label changes meaning they can spend more time better serving the customer and other added value activities, leading to increased job satisfaction.
• Connect in new ways: Using ESLs with low energy Bluetooth beacons, retailers can also move to paperless loyalty programmes, engaging shoppers in-aisle by using mobile apps to send personalised offers to their smartphones at the moment they’re thinking about a purchase.
 Survey of 2,200 US consumers by Bain & Company and ROI Consultancy Services