What is a Dark Store?

A dark store is a converted retail outlet or small warehouse-like distribution center that fulfills orders customers place online. Order fulfillment may involve home delivery, curbside and/or in-store pickup options. Dark stores generally do not provide in-store shopping.

With the meteoric rise in popularity of online shopping, the dark store model is quickly gaining traction among brick-and-mortar retailers. Discover the origins, benefits and requirements of dark stores in this article!

The origins of dark stores

Dark stores are a new retail business model that was born out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The restrictions left many storefronts closed for months at a time, and consumers were told to stay home and avoid contact with others. Online ordering surged, and brick-and-mortar retailers were left looking for ways to move their inventory and stay competitive in the new reality.

As a result, many brick-and-mortar locations converted, at least temporarily, to fulfillment centers and began to offer delivery and click and collect options that allowed customers to maintain social distance. While the era of lockdowns appears to be behind us, the popularity of online ordering and the resulting consumer expectations are here to stay.

How dark stores work

At dark stores, orders are placed online and employees walk among the shelves picking items to fulfill them. The interior may resemble a conventional store, but the layout is optimized for order picking and the aisles are more densely packed, since they aren’t designed to accommodate in-store shoppers. There’s also no need for promotional displays or digital signage, because customers aren’t there to see them.

Orders are displayed on handheld tablets, and pickers place the necessary items on trolleys, often picking for more than one order at a time. The orders are then packed for in-store or curbside pickup or sent out by van for delivery.

Home delivery

Purpose-built dark stores are often situated on the outskirts of cities near convenient roadways to facilitate delivery, unlike conventional shops, which tend to be centrally located in high-traffic areas to encourage walk-ins. Fleets of vehicles deliver orders on routes optimized for peak efficiency and may even offer same-day delivery.

Curbside pickup

Dark stores usually have designated parking spaces for curbside pickup. Customers can pull up in their vehicle and have their order brought out to them by an employee for a convenient, contactless experience.

In-store pickup

If in-store pickup is available, there will usually be a specially-designated area for it inside the building near the front entrance. This is a great option for customers who aren’t interested in wandering through the aisles to find their items but still want to inspect them or try them on before finalizing their purchase.

The benefits of dark stores

Dark stores have a wide variety of benefits for customers and businesses alike.

Customer convenience

Dark stores improve the customer experience because they offer the convenience of online ordering and several different ways to obtain the items purchased. Shoppers are spared the lengthy process of searching through the aisles and can choose easy, fast delivery straight to their doorstep or pick-up options that can include inspecting the merchandise or contactless collection, whichever they prefer.

Space and organization

Dark stores can be situated in more outlying areas, resulting in lower real estate costs and allowing for larger premises. A dark store may be as much as two to four times larger than a conventional retail store. With extra space and narrower aisles, dark stores have much more room for additional inventory, meaning a greater number of options and fewer stock shortages for customers.

Furthermore, the layout of a dark store can be optimized for picking orders rather than being designed for visual merchandising purposes.

24/7 operation

Some dark stores operate around the clock, picking and packing orders overnight and providing pick-up and delivery services during normal shopping hours. While conventional retail stores are usually subject to laws that restrict their operating hours, dark stores are not bound by the same restrictions and can operate 24/7, 365 days a year.

Efficiency and control

Since their operations are geared towards picking and fulfilling orders that are placed online, dark stores work with modern technology to make the process as efficient as possible. Automation and optimization help them fulfill more orders faster and with less personnel.

Furthermore, the use of technology and the fact that all items are picked by employees give dark store operators much more control over their inventory than conventional retailers.

The technological requirements of dark stores

Technology is the key to success for dark stores. They need software that can automatically assess the online orders placed, organize and optimize the list of items to be picked based on store layout, and send that information to the employees responsible for the task.

Electronic shelf labels are also vital technology for dark store efficiency. They can be used in conjunction with store software and geolocation technology to guide pickers to the correct items more quickly. Flashing label lights alert employees to the location of the next item, shaving off 5 to 10 seconds per pick and boosting pick rates from an average of 25 per hour to up to 150.

Furthermore, electronic shelf labels can display important information to help streamline inventory management—current stock status, next scheduled replenishment, item details, sell-by dates and more can be accessed quickly and easily.

Equip your dark store with electronic shelf labels from JRTech

The dark store model is here to stay, and it can provide many benefits for retailers that know how to make the most of it. Using the right technology is key to maintaining efficient operations, keeping an eye on stock to minimize waste and shortages, and providing customers with a positive experience.

Whether you are a dark store operator or a conventional retailer, you can benefit greatly from the world’s most reliable electronic shelf labels system, offered by JRTech Solutions. Contact us today to streamline your business with our digital pricing technology!

How Much Do Electronic Shelf Labels Cost?

Electronic shelf labels (ESLs) are a digital upgrade for product labelling that has major advantages for retailers. These digital price tags can drastically improve efficiency and accuracy on everything from price updates to restocking, lowering labour costs and enhancing the shopper experience. 

Are the many benefits of electronic shelf labels enough to justify the expense of their installation and upkeep? Discover the factors that affect the pricing of electronic shelf labels and determine whether they are a worthwhile investment for your business!

Factors that influence electronic shelf label price

Store size and number of products

The cost of upgrading to electronic shelf labels depends first and foremost on the number of labels you want to buy. The size of your store and the number of products you offer will determine the number of labels you need and consequently, the cost of the upgrade.

Type of shelf label

There are several different types and sizes of electronic shelf labels available, each with its own features and advantages. Note that you can use more than one type of label in your store!

LCD shelf labels

LCD shelf labels are a great option for smaller businesses that are looking to upgrade their signage in a cost-effective way. These price tags bring all of the main benefits of digitalization, such as automatic price updates and flash-guided restocking, but lack some of the additional features of their more sophisticated counterparts. LCD labels come in small and medium sizes.

Graphic shelf labels

Graphic shelf labels, while more expensive but offer a better ROI, come in high-definition display and have a variety of additional features and sizes for more customizable digital signage. Available features include:

  • SmartTAG Power+, which provides a bright 4-color display that will increase the visibility of promotions and enhance the customer experience.
  • Instant Flash with 7 different colours, which can be assigned to different people from your staff, making it easier for employees working on a single operation such as Click-&-Collect or Shelf Replenishment to locate and process their assigned products.
  • A built-in NFC function, which customers can access by tapping their smartphone on the label to get more information and features about the product being sold, enhancing the shopping experience.

Infrared (IR) or Radio-Frequency (RF)

Most electronic shelf labels receive commands via either radio-frequency or infrared technology. While infrared communication is a more expensive option, due to the fact that it is unique on the ESL market and only Pricer electronic labels from JRTech Solutions have the ability to operate on this communication system, it offers many more benefits than a radio-frequency system:

  • Infrared communication is bidirectional, meaning that the labels can acknowledge when commands are received. 
  • Product information is received in seconds, whereas radio-frequency communication takes longer.
  • It can be difficult for radio waves to make it through an environment already cluttered with other wireless signals such as WiFi and Bluetooth, whereas infrared will remain unaffected and has zero interference.
  • Radio-frequency communication takes much more energy, meaning the label’s battery will deplete faster than its infrared counterparts.

Check out this testimonial from hardware giant Rona attesting to the benefits of switching from radio-frequency to infrared electronic shelf labels!

Are electronic shelf labels a worthwhile investment?

Despite the initial start-up cost, electronic shelf labels are a worthwhile investment in the long run. Having digital price tags eliminates the need for printing and manually changing paper labels for each price update, resulting in considerable savings on labour and materials.

Once purchased, ESLs require very little upkeep. Businesses that implement electronic shelf labels can generally recoup their investment within 8 to 15 months, and a high-quality infrared electronic shelf label has a battery life that can last up to 10 or even 20 years. Avril Supermarché Santé has been using theirs since 2010!

Get an estimate for your store’s electronic price tags

JRTech Solutions is the North American supplier for digital pricing solutions from industry pioneer Pricer. If you’d like to find out more about the cost of our electronic shelf labels, contact us for an estimate! We will be happy to discuss your needs.

What is Visual Merchandising? Techniques & Benefits in Retail Stores

With the rise of e-commerce as a mainstream option, brick-and-mortar stores are having to work harder than ever to remain competitive and retain customer interest. Visual merchandising is one of the strategies that can be used to increase in-store traffic, boost sales and improve customer retention.

It involves optimizing every aspect of the store environment, from signage and product displays to lighting and sound to draw customers in, make them feel comfortable and encourage them to make purchases. It plays a crucial role in enhancing a store’s appeal, atmosphere and customer experience.

The importance and benefits of visual merchandising

The environment a customer is in affects the purchasing decisions they make. Factors such as a poor layout can deter customers from returning because it is confusing and detracts from their enjoyment of the shopping experience. It’s in retailers’ best interests to create an efficient, customer-friendly environment that makes shopping easier for customers and increases the likelihood of repeat business.

In addition to improving the shopping experience, visual merchandising techniques can be used strategically to highlight products with high profit margins, keep customers in the store longer, and affect their mood to encourage impulse buying.

Visual merchandising techniques

Store layout

The layout determines how customers move through the store, where they spend the most time and what they see. An effective layout will encourage shoppers to go through the whole store. For example, grocery stores tend to place basic necessities like milk at the very back so that customers must walk past other items and are more likely to impulse buy. Another example is Ikea’s famously labyrinthine sales floor, which forces shoppers to walk through every single section to get to the exit.


Having clear signage is a vital aspect of a systematic, organized store environment. Signs help customers find their way, make them feel more at ease and prevent them from getting frustrated or overwhelmed.

Promotional signage can also be used to draw shoppers’ eyes to particular products and highlight their features and benefits.


As the digital transformation sweeps the retail industry, phygitalization, the integration of digital solutions into the physical shopping space, is becoming increasingly important for stores that want to remain competitive.

Digital signage

There are endless possibilities for digital signage in retail. This type of visual merchandising can be used to highlight special promotions, product demonstrations or vibrant lifestyle images that help create emotional connections with products. Some digital screens even feature interactive options that allow customers to choose their content and encourage them to input their contact information.

Electronic shelf labels

Electronic shelf labels are indispensable tools for retailers in the digital age! With digital labels, retailers can automate price updates, significantly reducing the number of pricing errors and improving customer experience. These digital price tags also include additional features such as alerting employees to low stock levels, which helps with inventory management and ensures that products remain available to customers.

Product arrangement

The way products are arranged has a significant impact on purchasing decisions. Visual merchandising techniques can be used to attract customers’ attention to specific products and encourage them to buy.

Point-of-purchase displays

Point-of-purchase displays are product arrangements and marketing materials that showcase specific items in-store. Displaying small items near the checkout counter can encourage shoppers to impulse buy, for example, and arranging complementary products together can help remind customers about extras they might need and inspire additional purchases.

Window displays

Attractive window displays are one of the main techniques retailers use to entice shoppers to come into their stores. Windows are the place to display your newest and best-selling items. You can even arrange the items to represent a story or theme to add interest. Remember to keep your shop windows spotlessly clean to make a good first impression!

Ambient elements

While often overlooked, ambient elements such as lighting, sounds and smells have a major impact on customers’ moods. It’s advantageous for retailers to optimize the ambiance of their stores and create an atmosphere that reflects their brand identify and sales goals.


Choose your lighting carefully based on what you want to achieve. Bright light creates a sense of honesty, positivity, fun, and excitement. It can promote impulse purchasing, but it also makes customers move through the store faster. On the other hand, softer lighting creates a calmer, more peaceful atmosphere and encourages customers to spend more time in the store.

You can also use lighting strategically to put a literal spotlight on products and areas you want to draw attention to.


While sound isn’t visual, it is still considered an aspect of visual merchandising because of the effect it has on shoppers. Playing upbeat music can have a positive influence on customers’ moods, while slower music can help them relax and encourage them to spend more time in the store.

The most important thing is to select sounds that will appeal to your target audience. For example, a young, hip clothing shop might opt for pop music, while a mountaineering store might choose to dispense with music altogether and play ambient nature sounds.


Smell is one of the most subconscious yet powerful senses. It can provoke emotions, trigger memories and have strong positive or negative associations. For example, the smell of fresh bread or apple pie makes complete sense in a bakery, but it can also create a delightfully homey feel in furniture and home décor stores. Seasonal scents like evergreen can help create the right atmosphere during the holidays.

Upgrade your visual merchandising for the digital age with JRTech Solutions!

Modern-day consumers are used to the vibrant, fast-paced and information-rich experience that online shopping offers. To compete successfully, brick-and-mortar retailers need to include digital tools in their visual merchandising strategy to help recreate that experience in store.

JRTech Solutions is a leading supplier of electronic shelf labels and digital signage in North America. Not only can our digital pricing solutions contribute to optimizing the in-store environment, but they also drastically reduce labour costs by eliminating the need for employees to manually change every price tag, poster and sign. Contact us today to take your in-store experience to the next level!

The Benefits of Point-of-Purchase Displays for Grocery Stores and Retail

Point-of-purchase (POP) display is a term that covers a variety of marketing tools that are used in stores to advertise products and encourage customers to buy. They include physical displays that showcase products, digital advertisements on screens in-store, and more.

Unlike other types of marketing, point-of-purchase displays are not intended to attract additional foot traffic to a store—rather, the goal is to target customers who are already in the store to increase sales. The benefit of targeting in-store shoppers is that they are highly-engaged prospects—they are already interested in the products you offer and very close to making purchasing decisions. All they need is a nudge in the right direction, and that’s where point-of-purchase displays come in!

Types of point-of-purchase displays

Digital point-of-purchase displays

Digital POP displays generally consist of screens that can be mounted around grocery and retail stores to advertise products. They can show slideshows, videos or animations explaining how and when to use the product, feature lifestyle shots of people enjoying the product to evoke positive emotions in customers, or even offer interactive content that encourages shoppers to provide their contact information.

As the digital transformation sweeps through the retail industry, savvy retailers will use creative digital solutions to keep their customers engaged and loyal. A good phygitalization strategy, the integration of the digital into the physical shopping space, can help prevent customers from straying to online shopping or competitors.

End-cap displays

“End-cap” refers to the shelving on the end of an aisle. Customers don’t always venture down every aisle, but almost all of them will see the ends of the aisles, making these high-traffic areas perfect for point-of-purchase displays!

Displays near the checkout line

Displaying small, inexpensive items near the checkout counter can help drive sales. The customers in line have already decided to make a purchase, and are therefore more likely to pick up a few extra items if they won’t add too much to the total bill.

Checkout displays can turn the nuisance of a long lineup into an extension of the shopping experience that will keep customers engaged and interested while they wait. Retail giants like Walmart and Canadian Tire have optimized this strategy by creating a path of product displays where customers line up.

The many benefits of point-of-purchase displays

Attention-grabbing displays

Many shoppers tend to skim the shelves looking for products. Unfortunately, the packaging is often insufficient to convince them to make a purchase. Point-of-purchase displays provide bigger, bolder, more visually appealing marketing material that customers will be more likely to notice. Visually striking or interactive displays help attract customer attention and make the shopping experience more enjoyable.

An opportunity to highlight product promotions

Point-of-purchase displays are a great way to showcase the promotions you have on offer and encourage shoppers to take advantage of them. Promotions affect a product’s perceived value. If consumers think they’re getting a deal, they might be persuaded to make a purchase they wouldn’t buy otherwise. This is also a great strategy for getting rid of excess inventory!

Enhanced visibility

With the sheer number of products crowding shelves these days, it’s easy for shoppers to get overwhelmed and overlook things. Point-of-purchase displays can boost the visibility of products at key points during the decision-making process to increase sales. This can be done by placing product displays at strategic locations such as end-caps or near the checkout counter lineup, or with bold digital signage that draws eyes to the product.


Particularly with temporary and digital point-of-purchase displays, it’s easy to feature different products and change them up regularly so that each time customers come in, they can discover something new. Integrating digital signage in retail and grocery stores brings an incredible amount of flexibility, including dynamic pricing capabilities, where prices can be adjusted as needed based on the competition, available stock, and more!

A way to provide shoppers with additional information

Point-of-purchase displays are a great opportunity to tell shoppers about the qualities of a particular product and provide them with more in-depth information than is available on the packaging. Highlighting a product’s features and benefits gives customers important details that can help them make a purchasing decision. Even something as small as a QR code on an electronic shelf label can help customers get the information they need!

A strategy for targeting impulse buyers

According to a POPAI shopper engagement study, 82% of purchasing decisions are made in-store. Harnessing that and encouraging impulse buying can have an incredible impact on sales. Point-of-purchase displays are extremely effective tools for targeting people who walk into the store not knowing what they want to buy.

An opportunity to leverage cross-selling

Point-of-purchase displays are a great way to showcase complementary products, such as condiments near the hamburger buns or pitchers and ice cube trays near the lemonade. This strategy can remind customers about additional items they need and increase the amount they end up purchasing.

Digital point-of-purchase displays for a better in-store experience

JR Tech Solutions is North America’s leading supplier of digital pricing and ESL solutions. We offer completely customizable screens that can be updated with the click of a button for vibrant digital point-of-purchase displays that are sure to entice your customers. Contact us today to bring your store into the digital age!

Smart Shelves: What is Smart Shelving?

Like most industries today, the retail sector is grappling with the rise of the digital era, which has brought profound changes to business operations and customer expectations. While it may seem daunting, retailers must dive into the process of digital transformation in order to remain competitive. Fortunately, with new technology come innovative solutions that can truly revolutionize every aspect of business and are well worth the effort put into the transition!

In this article, discover the concept of smart shelving and find out how these digital solutions can help retailers!

What are smart shelves?

Broadly speaking, smart shelving is the implementation of new technology in retail to optimize the shopping experience. There are a variety of devices that can be installed on and around shelves to keep track of inventory, manage prices, collect data and provide insights into customer preferences and shopping patterns.

Types of smart shelf technology and how they work

Shelf sensors

There are a few different types of sensors that can be used on store shelves. Weight sensors can track inventory as products are removed and detect when items are out of stock. This makes it much easier to manage inventory and determine when restocking is needed, improving customer satisfaction by avoiding situations where items are unexpectedly sold out. 

Bluetooth and NFC (near-field communication) can be used to detect shopper proximity and the amount of time they spend in front of the shelf, collecting valuable data about their habits and preferences. Furthermore, if desired, this technology can interact with an app on customers’ phones, showing them personalized promotions based on their previous purchases.

Shelf cameras

Shelf cameras have a variety of applications in retail. Cameras can be installed on opposite shelves to monitor the products in real-time, detecting any gaps and notifying staff accordingly. They can even verify planogram compliance, making sure that every product is in its proper place on the shelves. 

Our AI-enabled technology tool, Pricer’s Shelf Vision, is specifically designed and tailored for retail businesses. The Shelf Vision, which on the surface looks like an electronic shelf label (ESL), is actually composed of a sophisticated wide-angle camera that uses a wireless optical system and IoT capabilities.

Meanwhile, front-facing cameras on smart shelves can assess shoppers’ gender and age ranges, facial expressions and moods, providing retailers and manufacturers with important data about customer demographics and how they respond to products, advertising, etc.

Digital signage

Digital signage is the smart alternative to paper posters. Much easier to change and update than their traditional counterparts, digital signs can be used to showcase high-profit-margin products and limited-time deals. They can feature ads, product demonstrations and video testimonials, and even offer interactive options for customers!

Smart signs immediately grab customers’ attention and influence their behaviour and decision-making, all while providing them with a more enjoyable shopping experience.

Electronic shelf labels

Electronic shelf labels (ESLs) are smart replacements for the paper labels that traditionally display the prices of products. They are all connected to a central system and can be updated automatically, removing the need for manual price changes.

Many electronic shelf labels on the market are equipped with flashing lights, but only Pricer digital price tags from JRTech Solutions can guide staff to the correct location when restocking products or picking for click and collect orders. These features can significantly reduce the need for staff and the associated costs at a time when labour is at a premium.

Benefit from smart shelf technology with JRTech Solutions

JRTech is the leading supplier of electronic shelf labels and smart shelving solutions in North America. We are proud to provide retailers with proven technology from industry pioneer Pricer to help them digitalize and meet the needs of the modern world of phygitalization! Contact us today.

What are Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs)? How They Work & Benefits

The digital revolution has come to retail! While electronic shelf labels have been on the market for over 30 years, the pandemic has greatly accelerated the integration of digital solutions in retail stores. Modern digital price tags like Pricer’s unique ESL technology don’t just improve efficiency through automatic price changes—they offer a host of features that can cut costs, improve inventory management and create a more positive customer experience. 

Find out more about electronic shelf labels and their many benefits in this article from the experts at JRTech Solutions!

What are electronic shelf labels?

Electronic shelf labels, also known as digital price tags, are wireless display labels that are used in retail stores. They are a digital replacement for traditional paper labels that have the advantage of being connected to the store’s main systems, facilitating a great many retail operations in an environment of phygitalization (the concept of combining physical presence with digital features in retail).

How do electronic shelf labels work?

Electronic shelf labels are small digital devices with e-paper or liquid-crystal displays that operate on battery power. Their low power consumption means that their battery life can last 10 years or more! ESLs receive information from the main system via infrared light or radio frequencies, meaning that prices can be updated much more quickly than on paper labels. 

Benefits of electronic shelf labels

Dynamic and accurate pricing

Before the advent of ESLs, it took retail store staff considerable time to manually update labels every time there was a price change or promotion. This process cost companies dearly, both in terms of labour and in terms of frequently inconsistent or inaccurate prices.

Now, companies that use ESLs are able to automate prices and update thousands of labels in a matter of minutes. In addition to drastically reducing lag and errors, stores with electronic shelf labels can take advantage of dynamic pricing —the ability to adjust prices at will based on demand, online competition, inventory and shelf life, and to create promotions easily.

Better omnichannel experience and phygitalization

As technology advances and online shopping becomes more and more prevalent, customers are starting to expect a similar level of accuracy and access to information when shopping at brick and mortar stores. Electronic shelf labels seek to narrow the gap between online and offline shopping by providing NFC and QR codes so that customers can access more product information on their mobile phones.

Reduced costs

Digital price tags enable companies to save on both labour and materials! Paper labels involve more expenses than you might think: paper, ink, printers and time, and new labels must be printed every time a change is made. Many stores need to change thousands of prices every week, resulting in an inordinate amount of time spent manually changing each label. This also results in a staggering number of pricing errors—5 to 10%, according to Pricer.

With ESLs, label price changes that once took staff days or even weeks to complete can now be done in minutes, freeing up associates to work on activities with a higher added value, such as replenishing stock and helping shoppers.

More efficient order picking

The pandemic has changed the way consumers shop. Click and collect ordering has soared in popularity in the last few years. While this can be a new source of revenue for retailers, it’s also costly to hire pickers to go through the stores collecting orders.

That’s why Pricer ESL systems from JRTech Solutions include geolocation to help staff locate products and optimize their route through the store. Furthermore, electronic shelf labels are equipped with LED lights that will flash to guide pickers to the correct product. These tools can save up to 10 seconds per pick, which adds up very quickly, as well as improving workflow and job satisfaction.

Improved inventory management

The same instantly flashing lights that guide order pickers to products can also help staff restock more efficiently. They can simply scan a product with their PDA (personal digital assistant), and the corresponding label will flash to show them where it goes.

Pricer electronic shelf labels from JRTech Solutions can also help with inventory management by alerting staff to out-of-stock products and providing easy access to information such as the amount of stock that should be in the store, past and planned delivery dates and quantities, etc.

Enhanced promotions

Electronic shelf labels make promotion management far easier, because prices can be updated automatically as many times as desired. Furthermore, the digital labels have four of the most commonly used colours available to help promotions stand out to consumers.

Waste reduction through strategic promotions

Electronic shelf labels can be equipped with AI-driven dynamic pricing systems that automatically create discounts for products with impending expiration dates. The ESLs can display the discounted price and relevant expiration date in addition to the regular price. The AI will then learn from customer behaviour and adjust the discounts accordingly, maximizing profits and minimizing waste.

Upgrade your store with JRTech ESL systems

There’s no question that electronic price tags can make all the difference for retailers. With automated price changes, improved team efficiency and access to the information consumers so ardently desire, ESLs can truly bring stores into the modern age and help them remain competitive.

JRTech Solutions is North America’s leading supplier of electronic shelf labels. With over 10 years of experience in digital retail pricing and management and proven technology from industry pioneer Pricer, we are well-equipped to help stores optimize their operational efficiency and join the phygitalization revolution! Contact us today.