Savvy grocery shoppers have no doubt noticed the move away from price labels affixed to individual grocery items signs on the front of shelves listing prices. The reason for this is obvious, it’s far less time consuming and costly for the grocer. Also, it makes changing the price a lot simpler. Now it appears, shoppers will need to get used to something new, price labels displayed on ePaper that are subject to change at any given second. PSFK is reporting on new ePaper technology being developed for British grocery chain ZBD Solutions, that allows for the electronic display of price labels for every item in a store. Also Progressive Grocer is reporting that Dagrofa, Denmark’s third largest grocery retailer is working on similar technology.
Grocery item price labels printed on ePaper look almost identical to those printed on regular paper. Generally, it’s black on white, without the slightest hint of backlighting. This is because they are not backlit. The technology is similar to that used by Amazon with its Kindle eBooks. It’s ePaper and it’s not the same as LED, or LCD which is what is used on other display devices such as phones and tablet computers. Instead, it’s all based on organic materials present one color or the other, depending on an electric charge. The result is a screen that most who look at it can’t tell from ink on real paper.
The reason for the shift from real to ePaper is simple, PSFK says, it’s all about economics. The people who run grocery stores want as much flexibility as possible. They want to be able to change the price of a single item, with just the touch of a key. As one example, the recent announcement that Hostess is going out of business caused a run on Hostess products in stores, mostly on Wonder Bread and snack cakes. Had store owners had enough notice, they would have almost certainly boosted the prices of such items to take advantage of the sudden increase in demand. Instead, they had to wait a day to allow for the changeover, causing them to miss out on a windfall.
Dagrofa, PG says, found itself wanting to implement technology that would make its stores look like they were a leader, rather than a number three trying to edge out the competition. One way to do that, they reasoned, was to install ePaper price listings that showed not only prices, but animated images that caught the eye of passing shoppers. Doing so has led to increased sales and market share; something that is not easy to do in a business that has been around for hundreds of thousands of years.