From Paper to Pixels: 5 Reasons to Switch to Electronic Shelf Labels

Ever wondered why more and more retailers are ditching paper price tags for digital displays? Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) are transforming the retail landscape, making price management sleeker, more accurate, and incredibly efficient. With the ESL market poised to grow from USD 1.73 billion in 2024 to USD 3.33 billion by 2029, the shift is backed by significant benefits for retailers and customers. With their frequent price discrepancies and the manual effort required for updates, traditional paper labels can’t compete.

In this post, we’ll explore five compelling reasons to switch to ESLs, highlighting how they solve the age-old retail pricing issues and pave the way for a smarter, more connected shopping experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Seamless Accuracy and Dynamic Pricing: ESLs eliminate price discrepancies, ensure trust and accuracy, and empower retailers with the flexibility to implement dynamic pricing strategies quickly in response to market shifts.
  • Engaging Customer Experience: By enhancing shelf appeal with vibrant, interactive displays and integrating seamlessly with other digital technologies, ESLs create a more informative and engaging shopping environment.
  • Cost-Effective Innovation: Offering a high return on investment and low total cost of ownership, ESLs reduce operational expenses while boosting revenue through improved pricing strategies and customer insights.

Reason 1: ESLs eliminate price discrepancies and ensure accuracy

Have you ever experienced the frustration of a price mismatch at checkout? It’s a common issue in retail, but one that Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) are solving. ESLs are directly connected to a retailer’s central pricing system, ensuring that the price displayed on the shelf is always up-to-date with the latest changes. This real-time updating eliminates the human error factor and closes the gap between shelf and checkout prices, drastically reducing the instances of price discrepancies:

  • Customer Impact: Price discrepancies can severely affect customer satisfaction, leading to negative shopping experiences. A customer who finds out the hard way that the price on the shelf doesn’t match the price at the register will likely feel deceived, damaging trust and loyalty.
  • Legal and Financial Risks: Inaccurate pricing isn’t just a customer service issue; it’s a legal one, too. Retailers can face fines and legal action for consistently mispricing items, affecting their financial bottom line and reputation.

By adopting ESLs, retailers offer a transparent shopping experience where customers can trust that what they see is what they’ll pay. This price accuracy and transparency level enhances the customer experience and fosters loyalty and retention. In a retail environment where trust is as crucial as the products’ quality, ESLs play a pivotal role in maintaining a positive customer relationship.

Reason 2: ESLs enable dynamic and efficient pricing updates

Dynamic and efficient pricing updates are at the heart of what makes Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) a game-changer for retailers. Gone are the manual price tagging and inevitable printing and labor costs. With ESLs, price changes are just a click away, allowing for instant updates across the store or a chain of stores, all from a central location. This capability streamlines operations and opens up a world of strategic pricing possibilities.

Consider the power of dynamic pricing, which lets retailers adjust prices on the fly in response to various factors like demand, inventory levels, and competitor pricing. For example, a retailer can lower prices on perishable goods as they approach their sell-by date, minimizing waste and maximizing sales. Conversely, prices can be adjusted during peak shopping times or in response to a competitor’s out-of-stock situation, optimizing margins.

Here’s how ESLs revolutionize retail pricing strategies:

  • Instantaneous Price Adjustments: Update prices in real-time for promotions, sales, or stock clearance without the logistical nightmare of manual repricing.
  • Strategic Pricing: Adapt pricing strategies in response to market trends and seasonal demands or to counter competitor moves, ensuring competitiveness and relevance in the market.

ESLs directly contribute to increased revenue and profitability by enabling flexibility and responsiveness. Retailers can more effectively manage their inventory, respond to market conditions, and meet customer expectations, which is critical to success in today’s fast-paced market.

Reason 3: ESLs Enhance the Visual Appeal and Functionality of the Shelf

Today’s retail isn’t just about what you sell; it’s also about how you present it. ESLs bring a sleek, modern look to retail spaces, marrying form with function in a way that traditional labels can’t match. Beyond just price tags, these digital displays offer:

  • High-Resolution Graphics: Catch the eye with clear, vibrant visuals.
  • Dynamic Colors and Animations: Make promotions pop and attract attention.
  • QR Codes and NFC Tags: Offer instant access to product details, reviews, and promotions.
  • Interactive Features: Engage customers directly on the shop floor.

These advancements mean your shelves do more than showcase products; they create an interactive experience that can draw in customers and provide them with valuable information at a glance. By improving shelf appearance and functionality, ESLs not only attract more customers but also:

  • Enhance customer engagement: A visually appealing, informative shelf invites exploration.
  • Increase conversion rates: Engaged customers are more likely to make a purchase.
  • Provide added value: Information like reviews and promotions helps customers make informed decisions directly from the shelf.

Incorporating ESLs transforms the shopping experience, making it more informative, interactive, and engaging for the customer. It is a win for both customer satisfaction and business success.

Reason 4: ESLs Integrate with Other Digital Signage and Customer Engagement Technologies

In the era of smart retail, Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) are not just standalone tools but critical components of a broader digital ecosystem. They seamlessly integrate with other digital signage and customer engagement technologies, creating a unified communication network. This integration enables ESLs to interact with mobile phones, tablets, kiosks, social media, and web platforms, facilitating a cohesive omnichannel customer experience.

This interconnectedness offers retailers a seamless and personalized shopping journey across various touchpoints. For instance, a promotion on a social media ad can be synced with the ESLs in-store, ensuring that the customer receives the same offer when they visit physically. Similarly, QR codes on ESLs can direct customers to online reviews or additional product information, bridging the gap between in-store and online experiences.

  • Enhanced Omnichannel Journey: By linking with online platforms and mobile devices, ESLs ensure that modern consumers enjoy a consistent and personalized shopping experience, whether browsing online or walking through the aisles.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Leveraging data and analytics, ESLs enable retailers to deliver targeted content and promotions, assess the impact of digital signage campaigns, and optimize the ROI of their marketing efforts.

ESLs, therefore, do much more than update price tags; they are pivotal in creating a connected, engaging, and personalized retail environment that resonates with the modern shopper.

Reason 5: ESLs Offer a High Return on Investment and Low Total Cost of Ownership

Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) aren’t just about embracing the future of retail; they’re a wise financial decision, too. With their long lifespan and minimal maintenance needs, thanks to low-power wireless technology and long-lasting batteries, ESLs stand out as a cost-effective solution. This technology is designed to go the distance, often years (up to 7 years with our own product, Easel), without replacing the battery, translating into substantial savings over time.

The savings extend beyond just the durability of the labels themselves. Retailers can significantly cut operational costs by automating price updates and eliminating the need for paper tags. The manual labor of changing prices, the recurring expenses of printing (including paper and ink), and even the energy costs associated with traditional signage—all see a dramatic reduction. 

Moreover, ESLs help minimize waste and shrinkage by ensuring pricing accuracy, thus improving inventory management and reducing losses from outdated pricing:

  • Operational Efficiency: Automating price changes with ESLs saves countless labor hours and reduces the need for physical resources like paper and ink.
  • Sustainability: By cutting down on paper waste and energy consumption, ESLs contribute to a retailer’s sustainability goals.

However, the benefits of ESLs go beyond cost savings; they also help drive revenue. Accurate, dynamic pricing means retailers can respond quickly to market changes, enhancing sales and margins. The modern, digital appearance of ESLs improves the shopping experience, boosting customer loyalty and brand perception. 

Additionally, the data from ESLs offers valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, enabling more targeted marketing and promotions. All in all, choosing an ESL for your business has many benefits overall.

Determining the Financial Impact of ESLs on Your Retail Business

Understanding the return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) for electronic shelf labels involves considering several key factors:

  • Initial Setup Costs: This includes purchasing the ESL hardware and any costs associated with integrating the system into your existing operations.
  • Operational Savings: Adopting ESLs reduces expenditures on manual updates, paper, ink, and energy, streamlining your operational costs.
  • Increased Revenue: Swiftly adjusting prices with ESLs can help capture more sales by responding in real-time to market demands and competitive pressures.
  • Enhanced Customer Loyalty: Providing a modern, accurate shopping experience with ESLs fosters customer satisfaction, critical for repeat business and long-term loyalty.

For a small retail shop, balancing the upfront cost of ESLs against the operational savings is crucial. The investment typically pays off through long-term reductions in manual labor and materials costs and an uplift in customer satisfaction.

Mid-sized supermarkets may find the benefits extend further, with dynamic pricing capabilities driving increased sales and enhancing customer loyalty, justifying the initial expenditure through cost savings and revenue growth.

Large retailers can leverage ESLs for comprehensive operational efficiencies and deeper customer insights, significantly improving brand perception and market competitiveness.

In essence, ESLs offer a scalable solution tailored to the unique needs of retailers of all sizes, aligning with strategic goals to enhance efficiency, customer experience, and profitability.


To wrap up, Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) are transforming retail by offering accuracy, efficiency, enhanced aesthetics, and integration with digital technologies, all while ensuring a cost-effective solution with substantial ROI. They are a superior choice over traditional paper labels for retailers aiming to boost performance and enrich customer experiences.

Interested in taking your retail operations to the next level with ESLs? Contact ComQi for more information, request a demo, or explore how our Easel ESLs can benefit your store.