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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.