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What Retailers Should Consider When Implementing ESLs

Time:2020.10.19     Author:sertag

    An ideal ESL deployment will look slightly different for every retailer — a grocery store like Whole Foods will have different needs than a specialty retailer like Apple, which will have different needs than a big box store like Costco. To a large extent, a retailer’s unique needs and existing infrastructure will determine its priorities — and the challenges it will have to overcome — as it seeks to implement ESLs. The following are but several of the real-world factors retailers will need to consider when rolling out their ESLs:

    Store Layout: RF signals need to be able to reach every label in a store to ensure accurate pricing, but that can be difficult if there are physical barriers in the way. For instance, a grocer will need to ensure its ESL system’s RF hardware is able to transmit signals with enough power to penetrate steel and glass refrigerators.
    Workflow: ESLs are meant to streamline the labelling process, but this means that a retailer’s technological capabilities must align with how it is actually going to utilize its labels. For instance, does the retailer want prices to come straight from corporate, or is pricing handled at the store level? If the answer is the former, the retailer’s headquarters will have to manage communication between multiple stores and a central server or a cloud setup, necessitating an added layer of technology and management.
    Custom Development: In addition to choosing an ESL system that suits its current inventory management practices, it makes sense for a retailer to choose a system with a robust protocol stack that can be reconfigured to suit the retailer’s shifting needs. For instance, while a retailer may want to explore how shoppers can use their phones to interact with its ESLs directly, not all backends would support this kind of interactivity.
    Appearance: Retailers don’t want to be limited when it comes to the “look” of their labels. Are they able to choose between several sizes? Are the graphics as crisp and readable as they would like? ESLs can even incorporate attention-grabbing features like blinking colored lights.
    Cost: The cost-effectiveness of an ESL system is always going to be an important consideration. To get a feel for whether ESLs represent an economically prudent option, a retailer should compare its initial investment in ESLs with its existing relabelling costs (which can be quite large for high-inventory stores). Retailers should also consider the ongoing maintenance costs of ESLs and understand how long various types of low-power devices will actually last.