Flying high with ESL: From electronic price labelling to a digital all-rounder


The retail sector has long had Electronic Shelf Labeling – ESL for short – on its radar, but now a real boom has taken off with regard to digital labels. Inspired by the coronavirus pandemic, the rapid technological progress and the increasingly attractive cost-benefit ratio, the market is showing growth rates of over 40 percent. Leading retail chains worldwide are investing heavily in the rollout of electronic price labels, which in the meantime have developed into micro-websites.

For many retailers the need to relieve staff of administrative duties and create more time for advice and sales is the foremost consideration. Bernd Albl, Divisional Head of Digital Retail, reports: “Last year was an exception because of the pandemic, but we nonetheless observed a very high demand for ESL. There is a demand for solutions that optimise the process. That shows that automation is just as important for the retail sector as atmosphere.”

Bernd Albl umdasch Digital Retail ESL
Bernd Albl, Divisional Head of umdasch Digital Retail

Optimising processes the smart way

Thus the digital labels not only permit prices to be changed at the click of a button; by means of an integrated flashing LED light (Pick by Light) they help the staff to find and restock the goods. The MDE tool shows the virtual live stocking plan and records shortages. Training phases are accordingly shortened and new staff members or temporary staff can quickly act effectively. Not least for the picking and packing of online orders (Click&Collect, delivery service), Pick by Light means a considerable time saving; according to calculations, 30 percent per basket of goods.

With the central ESL dashboard, the employees in charge have a real-time overview of label administration, the information recording and status of the individual branches and the entire group of companies.

ESL SES-imagotag
Photo Credit: SES-imagotag

Versatile touchpoint

The digital price labels, which are available in sizes ranging from that of a postage stamp to A4, also relieve the staff noticeably and in addition can be developed into a multi-faceted marketing tool. Product pictures, evaluations and information as well as competitions can be controlled via the e-paper tag. The notification appears either directly on the display – here ESL models with push buttons for navigation are available – or customers can access additional information and videos with the help of QR-codes / NFC (Near Field Communication). ESL is thus also an ideal cross-selling tool. Product finders, product recommendations, recipes and campaigns (e.g. coupon downloads) can be expertly introduced and encourage further purchases.

ESL SES-imagotag
Photo Credit: SES-imagotag

However, ESL can also shine the spotlight on the product and therefore permit uncompromising visual merchandising. One example: in the 11teamsports flagship store in Berlin the umdasch Store Makers have dramatically staged a revolving footwear wall with almost 300 football boots. The electronic price labelling was integrated into the shoe trees. Thus the back wall is reserved entirely for the store design; in this project the price labels intentionally take a back seat.


Sustainable effects can also be achieved with digital labels: an automated price reduction before closing time helps to avoid large amounts of waste in the food section – especially with fruit, vegetables and baked goods.

ESL 11teamsports umdasch schuhspanner
11teamsports, Berlin

Intelligently interlinked


ESL is predestined for interconnection with other digital technologies within the store. The incorporation of a Scan & Go app like that offered by the Umdasch Group Ventures holding “shopreme”, permits mobile payment directly via the electronic price label. Digital Signage and ESL are also a well-attuned duo. Coordinated customer-specific advertising messages and campaign reminders on labels and screens optimise the customer journey.

With the umdasch eXperience Platform the Store Makers have developed a special software which efficiently manages, interconnects and analyses digital touchpoints. The cloud-based platform functions as an interface between the inventory control system, electronic price labels by different manufacturers, digital signage solutions, Scan & Go providers, customer loyalty apps and IoT store furnishings.


umdasch eXperience Platform ESL
umdasch eXperience Platform

Experts in the ESL business

The Digital Retail professionals at umdasch keep a permanent eye on the latest developments within the ESL market. “Technology is progressing with leaps and bounds. For a while now Cloud-Points have replaced servers on site, and now work is progressing on Cloud solutions that are independent of the manufacturer. As regards the battery life of the labels, we are currently at seven to eight years, and some models already manage an entire decade. This ensures energy-efficient operation at the POS,” reports Alexander Käfer, one of the umdasch ESL experts.


As an independent ESL integrator, the company assists its customers step by step from the connection with the technical infrastructure via the installation to the commissioning on the shop floor and thereafter during operation. For JYSK – formerly Dänisches Bettenlager in Germany and Austria – umdasch is implementing an ESL rollout in more than 1,000 specialist markets. 3,000 labels per location are installed within just two days.

ESl JYSK umdsch
JYSK ESL Rollout

From this project and a series of others with famous retail companies the digital experts are gathering pioneering knowledge which then leads to ESL innovations. Thus umdasch recently launched a completely new generation of rails on the market which can already be seen at SPAR in Thüringen (AT). This convinces by the seamless flush-mounted transition from the ESL rail – regardless of the oblique position – to the shelf. The storage space is thus increased and there is quite simply more space available for the product. So electronic price labelling seems to be set to continue to fly high.

ESL Schiene umdasch SPAR
New ESL rail at SPAR, Thüringen (AT)

Do you have further questions? The Digital Retail professionals at umdasch ( look forward to discussing them with you.


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