Bloomberg's Spencer Soper reported Friday (July 17) on technology used by physical retailers to price match (even with online retailers) on a daily basis: electronic shelf labels.
"The expanded use of electronic shelf labels, which gained popularity in Europe over the past decade, shows the latest way online shopping is changing the in-store experience," Soper wrote. "Retailers are adapting to smartphone-toting shoppers who “showroom,” or scan Amazon.com Inc. and other websites to compare prices."
Most of the electronic shelf labels used in the U.S. to date have been in furniture, wine and book stores.
Electronic labels allow brick-and-mortar retailers to compete with online marketplaces that have more frequent price changes. The labels in the above photo, for example, are made by a Swedish company called Pricer, which is the market leader in digital pricing displays.
Soper reports that in Q1 of this year, Pricer's U.S. sales nearly tripled to $11.6 million versus Q1 2014. The U.S. market accounted for 8% of the company's quarterly revenue, up from 4% in the year-ago period.
Electronic shelf labels aren't cheap. "While shelf displays start at only about $5 each, the cost of outfitting a single store can top six figures for big-box retailers that carry tens of thousands of products in each location," he wrote. "Pricer’s U.S. business has been mostly with furniture, wine and book retailers."
A major retailer you may have already seen using electronic label is Kohl's, which started using them in 2010 and expanded them to all its stores by the end of 2012. Kohl's partnered not with Pricer on the labels, but with a San Jose, Calif.-based company called Altierre.