Electronic shelf labels (First Publish: 2007)

Electronic shelf labels (First Publish: 2007)







Innovation, team spirit and customer focus laid the foundation for Pricer


With a strong focus on retailers’ needs, Pricer has delivered innovative technologies, products and solutions based on unique near-infrared technology to the retail market all over the world for three decades. Founded in 1991, Pricer was a pioneer in electronic shelf labels for automated price changes and epaper labels.


1. Electronic shelf labels –from 1991 until today

When Pricer was founded in Uppsala in Sweden, inflation in the country was around 10 percent resulting in many price changes, and the situation was similar in other countries. In essence, high inflation and frequent price changes were the driving forces behind Pricer. Research and development were made in-house, and to be able to focus on customer needs, strong partnerships with leading Swedish retailers were built which gave valuable insights.


In 1995, Pricer received a breakthrough order from Metro in Germany, the second-largest retail chain in the world at the time, to install the Pricer electronic shelf label (ESL) system in 53 of their Cash & Carry stores. During this time, a major leap in product development was taken based on the feedback and insights from the close customer dialogue.


Since then, with a constantly strong focus on innovation, and products and solutions that match customers’ needs better than the competitors, Pricer has always strived at being retail’s first choice. The choice of moving to ePaper as a pioneer in 2004 is clear proof of this.


In 2004 Pricer conducted several projects on future display technologies. The plan was that the development of a new electronic paper concept would make it possible to produce both thinner and larger format labels offering high resolution and enhanced readability at wide viewing angles. These new concepts demonstrated Pricer’s position at the leading edge of retail technology innovation. Prototype installations were completed in Japan during 2004 and the new concepts, with the new Epop label, were presented at the Euroshop global retail trade fair in February 2005 as described in Pricer’s annual report for 2004. The Epop paper label was described as a light, high contrast, paperlike, segment-based display based on the low-energy electronic technology used for larger label sizes.


Also in 2004, Pricer was developing another product based on dot matrix technology, which enabled high versatility in graphics and characters.


In the coming years, what was then called pixel-based displays were more generally adopted. The labels not only had a modern design with a larger LCD display, but also provided the ability to scroll textual information. Thus the retailer could use the labels for both marketing and advanced promotion information. The details the labels could show translated into a rich, textural display with extreme detail. This meant the screen could now display just about anything, from brand logos and feature/benefit bullet points to scannable barcodes and time-based promotional messages.


In 2007 Pricer was the only ESL provider that offered a reliable noise-immune communication platform for wireless store display needs coupled with both segment-based displays and pixel-based electronic paper displays.


During 2013 Pricer continued to develop solutions with a strong focus on product innovation. Sales of graphic labels increased significantly and the proportion of new sales was around 40 percent. These labels were in greater demand but also more expensive and could therefore be combined with traditional LCD-based labels in stores to ensure an optimized structure. A new line of products, SmartTAG, was launched successfully in 2013. It accommodated both LCD and graphic displays.


A major leap in product development and customer benefits was taken since SmartTAG was equipped with a flash, then called SmartFlash, a wireless flash function in shelf labels. Together with the positioning of products in real time, the platform could now perform additional uses beyond digital pricing. Attention could be drawn to a specific product for a specific individual in real time. Consequently, the system could help customers or staff quickly find the products they were looking for, or assist the store to confirm its planogram, i.e. the map of the store’s design.


Moving to 2020, Pricer launched the SmartTag Power and PowerPlus families, a major line extension of the highly successful SmartTag electronic shelf label product range. With these new labels performance enhancements such as sub-second response time for both display and flash were introduced, but also dramatically extended battery capacity giving useable power equivalent to 10 and 20 years, enhanced sustainability with reduced energy utilization and recyclability, multicolor (7 colors) and multi-intensity (4 levels) flash and integrated NFC. The capability dramatically increased the number of updates per day and flash usage.


The latest shift in product development is the recent introduction of four-color epaper labels. This is a new generation range of display and electronic shelf labels designed to engage and communicate using superior resolution graphics and stunning bright colors. Pricer’s unique and scalable infrastructure means longer battery life and greater capacity for changes, updates and use of flash meaning that these are the most highly functional and longest-lasting displays and ESLs of their type in the industry. Some of the benefits include:

· Bright ColorsSmartTag Color bright colors and high resolution bring enhanced engagement to in-store campaigns and messaging.

· Great contrastThe labels and displays are eye-catching and enable creative content with great contrast and highlighting.

· Paper-like: The label is paper-like and the close to 180 degree view angle makes it ideal for customized in-store information.

· Excellent readability: E-Ink Spectra 3100 E-paper graphic display for excellent wide-angle readability.

· Color options: Display color: black, white, red and yellow (simultaneous).

· High resolution: Highest resolution graphical capabilities (up to 144dpi).


To date, Pricer has installed more than 280 million electronic shelf labels in more than 22,000 installations in over 70 countries.


1.1. Pricer Plaza – the foundation for full-chain management

In 2020, a new major step was taken with the launch of Pricer Plaza, which is the foundation of the most scalable, fastest, most future-proof and reliable shelf-edge communication system. Pricer Plaza provides a sophisticated range of cloud-based applications, that offers SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions. Pricer Plaza enables a wide range of partners across the retail system such as analytics, AI, promotions, dynamic pricing, inventory, waste management to be smoothly integrated to allow the core electronic shelf label based in-store system to deliver different use cases. It also enables the retailer to integrate additional capabilities. With Pricer Plaza it is possible to manage store efficiency and customer engagement for an entire chain or a single store.


1.2. Research & Development team

Pricer’s R&D team is working to develop new products and services and continuously improve the performance of existing solutions. Innovation and product development are a significant part of Pricer’s operations both at its Parent Company in Sweden and the company’s site in Taiwan. Factors such as technology trends, market trends and customer requests form the basis for this work.


2. Innovation and attentiveness to the needs of customers and consumers

So how does the Pricer solution based on electronic shelf labels support retailers all over the world? Pricer offers leading retailers worldwide automation and communication solutions that help them communicate with their customers, which improves the shopping experience and enables streamlining of in-store tasks, thus lowering operating costs.


Originally, electronic shelf labels were used to enable immediate price changes in stores, reducing the labor cost associated with changing paper labels and avoiding fines for incorrect prices at checkout compared to the signs in the store. Today, the labels are a dynamic link between the product and the customer. In addition to communicating the offer, the labels can also make changes in real time to not only price, but also campaigns, product information, country of origin, and much more.


Pricer's products and solutions thus enable communication and streamlining, which increases customers’ sales, lowers their costs, and creates an improved customer experience in their stores. Pricer is working actively to contribute to strengthening the attraction of the physical store, which generates a clear customer benefit and satisfied customers.


Dynamic price setting

By transitioning from manual to automated price changes in a store or an entire store chain frees up time for more value-generating tasks such as helping customers or replenishing the shelves. In a store with paper labels, the price on the shelf can differ from the price at check-out. In a store equipped with Pricer’s system, the prices are updated digitally and automatically to guarantee that the price on the shelf is always the price at check-out.


The line between physical stores and e-commerce is also rapidly disappearing. Store visitors expect a cohesive experience, with a single, correct price regardless of the channel. Pricer’s system enables stores to guarantee that their prices are synchronized across all channels.


Inventory management in stores

Pricer's system can be used in several different ways to improve inventory management, for example by showing the inventory levels on the label before the store opens. Staff can also be guided to potential problem-products through the flash function.


Click & Collect

When a consumer places an order online, the order is often picked in a nearby store. Picking orders is time-consuming and costly, but the Instant Flash function on the labels saves customers important time while picking. Based on the online order, the store employee is shown a route through the store. As the employee approaches the shelf, the labels of the items that need to be picked will start to flash. Without needing to look for the item itself, the employee can quickly pick the right item by following the flashing labels.



Shelf replenishment is one of the most time-consuming tasks in a store. For every product that is sold, a new one needs to take its place on the shelf. With a map that shows the location of the product in the store and Instant Flash, even an inexperienced employee is transformed into an efficient stocker.



Marketing materials such as shelf talkers are commonly placed on shelf edges to call attention to the campaigns. Many shelf talkers need to be put up and taken down in between two campaign periods. Pricer’s system utilizes a hand-held unit that has a map of the store showing where the campaign goods are. When the employee is at the proper shelf, the flashing label clearly indicates which items are in the campaign at the same time as the hand-held unit shows what needs to be done.


Guidance in the store

In large stores like supermarkets or DIY stores, it is not always easy for customers to find the item they want. Pricer offers a geolocation solution where each label is dynamically and automatically positioned so the system knows where all products are in the store. Customers can then search for a product and find it on a map using Pricer Quick Search, which is available at an in-store terminal or as a mobile app or website.


Reduced food waste

Pricer offers smart solutions that make it easier for the stores to check when items will expire and sell expiring items at the right prices before they must be thrown away. Pricer’s system sends store employees a list of products in the store that are approaching their best-by date. This enables employees to focus on these products specifically instead of needing to check the date on all items.