By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
In 2014, Kroger super market began a test of digital shelf labels, and with companies seeking technology to enhance the consumer shopping experience, more retailers are already following suit. Digital shelf labels are helpful to the consumer because they make the text easier to read, can update with more accurate pricing information, and can incorporate video and sound.
At the 104th National Retail Federation (NRF) Annual Convention & EXPO earlier this month, Panasonic debuted their Powershelf, an integrated retail merchandising solution, alongside their other contributions to the retail industry.
Powershelf combines battery-free wireless electronic shelf labels (ESLs), and features beacon mobile advertising capability, plus inventory and price management software. Panasonic has designed the Powershelf to be an investment that's affordable for retailers, because it's installed on existing shelving units which doesn't require an intense remodel. This feature, coupled with the fact the units are battery-free, should be attractive to retailers. The lack of batteries is an eco-conscious feature that is cost effective and will please customers and retailers.
Rance Poehler, President, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America says, "By leveraging our global distribution network, engineering capabilities, enhanced technology, and manufacturing prowess, we'll help equip retailers worldwide with solutions that will directly affect their bottom line.”
One of the most important elements of retailing is inventory, and Panasonic's Powershelf uses sensors to detect out of stock merchandise, and alerts the store staff to the situation. The shelving also features lighting that differentiates between multiple brands for the consumer. Powershelf can also help monitor temperatures in freezer areas, to reduce spoilage and improve consumer safety.
ESLs are likely to become more common with retailers in 2015, as the technology offers a quick way to change prices for sales or with the fluctuation in product demand. Retailers who use the traditional paper tags can expend hundreds of hours in manpower using employees to swap out labels by hand. Powershelf lets them update prices with the touch of a button.
Beacon advertising is an increasingly popular technology adopted by retailers because it allows for personalized advertising messages, and Powershelf has the option for the retailers to use their own shopping network, where customers receive relevant information such as discounts and offers.
"Retailers need to provide a retail experience to fit the mobile era. Additionally, the paper tag and manual inventory management processes that are being employed today are arguably the most antiquated processes in modern retailing. Powershelf is a foundational technology platform that transforms how products are retailed. With power and communication at the shelf, the opportunities are limitless,” says Larry Williams, CEO of Powershelf.
At the NRF show, Panasonic also debuted the Panasonic Stringray III, a new POS device compatible with multiple Microsoft Windows operating systems. The Stingray III features interchangeable touchscreens and comes in two different display options; the screens are able to tilted from 20 to 90 degree angles, and a 15 degree lateral swivel. Optional customer-facing cameras and a touchscreen for promotional video advertising are also available.