ABI reports over the next 5 years Electronic shelf labels (ESL) are set to grow beyond retail markets in legislated countries, with revenues increasing six fold to almost US$2 billion by 2019.
In its latest report, “Next Gen Retail: Electronic Shelf Labels”, ABI Research outlines how ESLs will be a key link in the retail technology chain, representing a great starting point when NFC or BLE is integrated. Retailer’s attention has been caught by other technologies, but the ideal scenario and end game for most will be a tightly integrated system that consists of ESL, smartphone applications, BLE beacons, indoor location, mobile payments, digital coupons/loyalty, customer analytics, and omnichannel marketing and pricing. ESLs are a perfect starting point, bringing a return on investment-based traditional brick and mortar bottlenecks, while also opening the door to next generation services and revenue opportunities.
Senior analyst Patrick Connolly commented, “ESL, in combination with NFC and/or BLE solves ongoing retailer issues like, out-of-stocks, check-out expenditure reduction, manual price coordination overheads elimination, inventory and store layout management, omnichannel consistency, and efficient price management of shrinkage/perishable goods, delivering an RoI within 18 months on these use cases alone. With integrated connectivity, it also brings future potential around dynamic pricing, positive showrooming, tightly integrated in-store advertising/redemption/loyalty, analytics, and pay-as-you-go shopping.”
“Dynamic pricing can be a controversial topic, but many of the arguments against are naïve or based on scenarios that are unlikely to occur in the brick and mortar space. The reality is it will give retailers far more control and flexibility, with the ability to reward loyal customers, dynamically match pricing to varying demand, while also meeting the needs of price sensitive customers,” added Connolly.
Pricer and SES are the two major players in this space today, dominating traditional markets. In particular, SES has shown very strong growth over the last 2 years, with the recent imagotag acquisition giving it new capabilities. Displaydata (backed by Zebra Technologies) and Samsung are the clear emerging threats, with Altierre also achieving some success in its native United States market. There are also a number of localized start-ups such as Hanshow in China that will make this a very interesting market over the next 5 years.