Managing Retail at the Shelf Level

Swedish company Pricer's DotMatrix ESL eases the process of price labeling while ensuring that customers get a more accurate price reading.

Swedish electronic display provider Pricer is offering the DotMatrix electronic shelf label solution, which officials said is the first fully scalable wireless graphical ESL supported by an ESL platform.

Relying on bi-stable graphical technology and a matrix-controlled display with information storage at the display surface, DotMatrix can show paper label information in its exact typeface and layout, including a readable bar code.

Pricer unveiled the product Feb. 25 at the EuroShop conference in Dusseldorf, Germany.

"You maintain the flexibility of a paper label," said Nils Hulth, head of product management for Pricer.

For retailers, Hulth said DotMatrix can offer significant operational benefits, such as an easier way of putting prices on the labels.

"You can scan the barcode on the product and then scan the label," he said. "You don't even need to know what the article is. It takes very little training [to use]."

Hulth said the DotMatrix labels are also useful for retailers who sell complex products, such as electronics retailers.

"Electronics are a complicated product and you need to know extra information, such as what components an item is compatible with," he said. "You can store that information on hidden staff pages on the label, providing benefits to both retailer and customer."

For customers, Hulth said advantages include having secure knowledge that the correct price is on the shelf.

"You can see up to a 10 percent pricing error on a traditional label," he said. "Now the customer can have the right price on the shelf."

Vahe Katros, president and founder of Vahe Katros Consulting, said the capabilities of DotMatrix could offer customers benefits beyond pricing accuracy.

"ESL has always been interesting from a price management point of view, but the need to deliver contextually relevant messages is fast becoming an additional function retailers will need to deliver," said Katros. "When Procter & Gamble created a vice president-level position for First Moments of Truth, they were acknowledging the importance of managing those 8 seconds at the shelf where customers are making their product decision."

He said customers overwhelmed by marketing messages in the media now simply ignore them and make purchase decisions at the shelf instead.

"The shelf needs to delver a richer experience," Katros said. "The DotMatrix ESL is a tool to manage this experience in a way that may be more feasible and acceptable than video at the shelf."

He cautioned that any message delivered via ESL must be relevant. "What works for a customer who is a hard-core label reader may not work for the customer who wants to make a choice in seconds," he said.