Posts Tagged ‘electronic shelf labels’

How a Blend of Digital and Print Signage Improved ROI

Posted on: February 16th, 2022

Once again, the emperor has no clothes.

The push to make all things digital has reached the world of retail. 

Retail stores like grocery stores, department stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, and others are using more digital displays including signage and electronic shelf labels.  The general consensus seems to be that the push to make everything digital is a good thing.  Many digital signage companies are even talking about how going all digital can improve return on investment (ROI).

As we covered in our previous blog, Digital Signage Best Practices, Mistakes, and Disadvantages, digital signage has its place, but going full digital is not the most practical, or most profitable solution.  In many cases, the digital push is more of a vanity project than something that delivers value, and it can actually hurt your ROI.

The integration of digital solutions has done wonders in retail as smart digital signage and electronic shelf labels can be integrated with planograms and ensure control, speed, accuracy, and consistency in your messaging when it comes to promotions, pricing, and inventory.  When used in an effective and efficient manner, this can lead to a good ROI for retail businesses.

However, it pays to be smart about how you implement digital signage, electronic signage, and electronic shelf labels.  You must consider where it is profitable and practical to use digital signage, and where it is more economical to use printed signage.  Going fully digital just because the opportunity is there is not in the best interest of your business, shareholders, or customers in terms of value.

The best approach is to use blended signage, which means using digital signage where it is practical and continuing to use print signage where it makes sense as far as practicality and cost.  At ECS Global, we know that using a blend of technologies is often the most practical and profitable approach.  is a blended solution that integrates both digital and printed signage and shelf tags to truly improve your ROI.

Efficient Use of Digital Signage


Digital signage is a very versatile promotional element of your store meant for sales, dynamic signage displays, and products that frequently change price

As mentioned above, the best way to get a good ROI is to have a solution that uses a blend of digital and paper signage and displays.  This makes it important to think critically about how to best use digital signage so that it is a boon to your ROI, rather than a detriment.

The temptation to go all digital may be strong and digital signage companies may tout this as the best way to improve your ROI.  But the idea that going fully digital without considering the potential inefficiencies of digital signage in certain applications will boost your ROI is nonsense.

The use of digital signage is beneficial to your ROI when used efficiently.  With digital signage, you can change prices, promotions, and other information quickly and easily, and these actions can even be automated.  Any changes to your digital signage will be instantly sent out to all of your digital displays, TV screens, and electronic shelf tags.

The following are the best applications of digital signage:

  • Frequent price changes: In the world of retail, the price of some items changes more frequently than the prices of others. Electronic shelf tags are an efficient solution for products that change price frequently.  You can also consider using electronic shelf tags in sections for seasonal products where the products change every 2-3 months.
  • Promotional displays: Many retail stores have physical displays for promotion dependent products. As promotions change, so do the products.  Digital signage and electronic shelf tags can be changed easily to reflect the new products and pricing with each promotion.
  • Dynamic digital signage: Many retail stores make use of digital signage on TV screens that can incorporate images, videos, and animations. These signs can also be created and changed very easily with a solution like the Media Manager that is within ECS5.  If your business makes use of digital displays in which the content changes regularly, ECS5 can help you make efficient use of these displays.  If the content on these displays remains static, it is more cost-effective for these signs to be printed.

Efficient Use of Paper Signage


If you have products that do not change price frequently, paper signage is much more cost-effective and can be incorporated into your blended signage strategy with ECS5

Digital signage is the most cost-effective when used in applications where prices, products, and promotions change frequently.  The ease of which digital signage can be managed and changed may seem like it can improve your ROI on the surface, but you also must consider the costs of buying, implementing, supporting, and replacing digital signage.

In any given retail store, there are many SKUs that may change infrequently or not at all in a year.  Going fully digital with your signage means that you are paying to implement and support the capability in areas where dynamic signage is simply not needed which ends up costing your business money and cutting into your ROI.  In these situations, using printed signage is much more cost-effective and better for your ROI.

When using a blended signage solution like ECS5, your print and digital signage can be integrated and controlled from the same system.  Using printed signage and shelf tags for products in which the price or product description rarely, if ever, change costs you less than having a static digital sign or electronic shelf label hold that place.  If a change does occur, you can make the change within ECS5 and the design for your paper signage and shelf tags will be updated automatically.

ECS5 also integrates your store planogram so that only paper shelf tags for products that are currently in stock will be printed, which cuts down on waste materials.  Paper signage and shelf tags can also be printed easily within the system and employees can print them from anywhere within the store using mobile printers.

Printed signage and shelf tags are significantly cheaper than digital signage and electronic shelf tags.  Sticking with paper signage for static prices and promotions will help reduce your costs for a better ROI.

Blended Signage Solutions with ECS5

For retail stores like grocery stores, pharmacies, department stores, clothing stores, and others, going fully digital with your signage is not the best way to improve ROI.  Digital signage companies may try to sell you on this idea, but it is not in the best interest of your business, your customers, or your shareholders.

Retail businesses benefit most from a blended solution with intelligent usage of paper signage and shelf tags and digital signage.  ECS Global Inc. offers a blended signage solution with our in which you can design, manage, print, and implement paper signage and shelf tags as well as digital signage from one place.

ECS5 allows you to dynamically create and manage digital and print signage and shelf labels and it integrates planogram designs, inventory, product information, retail mobile devices, mobile printers, and point of sale terminals to ensure accuracy across all of your communications.  You can leverage the benefits of digital and print signage and save your business the cost of implementing digital signage capabilities where they are not needed for a much better ROI.

Contact us today to learn more about ECS5.

The Digital Panacea – The Emperor Has No Clothes On

Posted on: November 11th, 2021

Digital Signage Best Practices, Mistakes, and Disadvantagesdigital signage disadvantages

A digital display or promotional screen that rarely changes its message is an enormous waste.

It might as well be paper.

Yet these are found everywhere — in hotels, pharmacies, school campuses, supermarkets, and department stores.

In some cases, these displays are left unmanaged, displaying errors, or even switched off.

In the constant push towards all things digital, marketers, promotion planners, and retail business owners have begun to work against themselves, driving up their costs of operation for no reason at all, and handcuffing themselves to technologies they cannot drive or manage.

Technology is assuredly a powerful solution for retail stores. Intelligent use of digital solutions such as smart digital signage or electronic shelf labels introduce an incredible amount of control, speed, and consistency to store promotions. These technologies have a positive promotional impact on customers, and lead to an extraordinary return on investment for business owners.

However, ECS Global Inc. provides these digital solutions knowing they are just a piece to the puzzle of store profitability.

While they can be a boon for store performance, technologies like digital signage, electronic signage, and electronic shelf tags can be misused and sink a store’s bottom line just as well.

Recall that over the last decade, IT providers also pushed for a complete digital evolution — to move everything to the “cloud.” Yet, business owners affected by recent ransomware attacks are now discovering their best practices should have still included those physical disks on dusty shelves.

In a similar vein, the over reliance and conversion of all signage and promotional strategies to digital displays is a result of the same lack of critical thinking, creating an expensive lesson for retail stores that fail to also leverage paper signage and labeling.

And so, when you enter a store that is all digital for no reason other than to be digital, it’s true that you may indeed be witnessing the emperor of innovation.

But this emperor has no clothes, and his coffers are empty.

Inefficient Uses of Digital Signage and Electronic Shelf Tags

electronic shelf labels example

It is critical to store success that a blend of technologies including paper, digital, mobile, and display, are used in optimal unison.

ECS Global Inc takes into consideration the most efficient placement and technology for any promotional purpose when implementing the ECS5 cloud solution.

For instance, a digital sign cannot be more efficient, less expensive and more impactful than paper where that paper sign is not highly promotional.

It is impossible when considering the cost of buying the display unit, implementing the unit, and supporting the unit – it just doesn’t add up.

A change from paper signage to digital signage can only be considered an upgrade if the business is driving varied content to that display unit on a regular basis for promotion dependent products.

Otherwise, a digital display that shows a static image for months on end is really nothing more than a very expensive paper sign.

Similarly, the idea of electronic shelf labels may sound like an attractive solution that can be thrown at any retail operation. However, if the price of the promoted goods is not volatile or affected by competitor pricing, these labels never needed to be electronic in the first place.

There is no point in promoting goods such as baked beans, stationary, vitamins, plasters, towels, soap and similar products as they are not highly promotional items.

Paper Has its Place

In these cases of static promotions, a paper sign should always be used, as it is significantly cheaper and, in many cases, even more impactful than a digital display.

A print solution can be highly efficient if you are only printing what is stocked in any store. That means a new sign is only produced when something appropriate changes, such as price, brand elements, or product descriptions.

With the right planogram tool, you can also print paper labels in an efficient store-walk order, minimizing the time the store associate takes to implement the changes by using mobile on-floor printers where operational benefits present themselves.

With a blended solution such as ECS5, you can have one design environment, one instance of content and a central control which is efficient and able to be executed at pace and react to things such as competition activity, market trends, emerging news, and more.

Ultimately, a highly impactful colorful point of sale will always be better than a strictly digital alternative.

Digital Signage and the Trap of a Technology Cul-de-sacdigital signage best practices and risks

A business that is over eager to jump into digital signage without considering an efficient implementation can find itself facing costly consequences.

This can be due to more than just a poor placement of display units.

Often times businesses do not take into account the system needed to manage and drive digital signage displays throughout their store.

For example, when a new promotion needs to be run for a line of products, these stores do not have the means to develop new media content that is both timely and attractive. These businesses must rely on an expensive vendor or studio to create new promotions that are often outdated by the time they arrive. These slow methods of media creation also make it impossible to respond to unexpected events, or actions by competitors.

Without the ability to design and publish new content themselves internally, such as through a blended communications solution like ECS5, these stores abandon the use of their digital displays or simply begin to use them like paper signs. This is an enormous cost waste.

The problem only continues to worsen, as stores that quickly roll out a decision to install digital signage displays may also find themselves handcuffed to their technology.

Media signage that cannot be centrally managed, for example, will require specific hardware from a single manufacturer to run properly.

Display units purchased to run a specific promotion may not be able to run the type of media content needed for future promotions. And further complicating things, other types of displays may not even be compatible with existing setups.

This is not only a significant cost, but it prevents the store from keeping up to date with technology and competitors, restricting them to a cul-de-sac of limited options.

Smart Signage Solutions with ECS5paper signage vs digital signage

Retail stores, pharmacies, department stores, and other facilities should ensure they have a blend of technologies – from high impact colorful point of sale, digital displays and multimedia, to intelligent uses of paper signage and labeling.

ECS Global Inc. provides a cloud solution in ECS5 that blends communication between efficient high-impact digital signage, paper based promotions, and labeling solutions.

With the ability to drive digital signage and electronic shelf tags from a central point and across all types of displays and from many manufacturers, businesses that use ECS5 can dynamically create and manage promotional content that accurately connects to product information, planogram designs, retail mobile devices, and point of sale terminals.

Don’t install expensive display units for the sake of being ahead of the curve. Leverage all aspects that drive operational efficiency and store profitability with a system that unifies communication between everything from label printing to impressive video walls and electronic displays.

Contact Us to Learn More About ECS5

ECS5 Electronic Signage and Shelf Label Advantages

Posted on: November 11th, 2021

electronic shelf labels advantages

Today there is ever increasing pressure on retailers to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

ECS Global Inc. already helps many retailers improve communication consistency in store while also reducing labor costs using the ECS5 Media Suite. ECS5 extends our ability to drive electronic signage and digital displays in store.

ECS Global believes there is a positive ROI when using electronic signage but for each retailer, there is an appropriate blend of paper, ESL and Digital Media that gives the best blend of reduced labor, improved compliance, and competitive advantage.

ECS5 is able to drive all the elements of store communication from a single system, whether the output is traditional paper POS, ESL or Digital media, we are able to control from a single point.  This ensures consistency across all the different media types through a single management interface.

By choosing the correct blend of the available technologies it is possible to recognize the benefits of each unique output medium giving the best possible blend of cost savings, consistency, compliance, and shopper experience.

So, what are the advantages of electronic shelf edge labels and digital media within the store environment?  Or is this just an expensive way to deliver signage and labelling to the store?

This document will explore our thoughts on this subject based on our experiences with this technology over several years.

Is there an ROI on ESLs?

It is true that ESLs are significantly more expensive than paper labels so how can Electronic Shelf Labels achieve benefits without increased cost?

The most obvious advantage that ESLs bring is the ability to automate changes to shelf edge labels within each store.

This has potential to:

  • Improve compliance.
  • Reduce store labor.
  • Allow us to change more prices.
  • Dynamically compete on price.

Improved Compliance

electronic signage advantages

By automating the signage process with ESLs, issues of human error and missed signage is eliminated.

Near real time changes are possible ensuring that there is no delay between price changes and price label updates in the stores.

Reduce Store Labor

Significant savings can be made through store labor reductions. In an increasingly competitive world, there are more price changes and promotions than ever before.

If it takes on average 30 seconds for a store associate to deploy a new price label, labor savings using ESLs can be significant, especially on days when large promotions are starting or ending.

It is not uncommon for larger retailers to produce several thousand signs per day at peak promotional periods.

Allows us to change more prices

When signage is manual the process of putting new signage up and taking down old signage can be the limiting factor that dictates the maximum number of price changes that can be made on any single day.

Labor planning needs to happen well in advance making large numbers of price changes at short notice impractical to deploy.

Dynamically Compete on Price

Many retailers find it difficult to reliably deploy last minute price changes during the day because the process needs to be extremely flexible and in store processes find it difficult to reliably deal with unknown events.

Sophisticated and integrated workflow management needs to be deployed to reliably achieve this. ESLs can remove this burden.

What else should be considered?

Because of the high price of Electronic Shelf Labels when compared to paper it is not possible to take each benefit in isolation and prove a positive ROI.

Instead, we need to look at the blend of benefits used together to achieve a return.

Possibly the single most important factor is deciding where to deploy the ESLs.

For example, if I am in a large grocery retailer with 500 stores with an average range of 30,000 products per store, the cost of deploying ESLs across the entire estate is prohibitive. It is also likely that the majority of the products stocked are not high price volatile. In this case the ESL benefits of reducing store labor and dynamically competing on price are drastically diminished.

Changing a paper sign for a product every 3 months is a tiny cost when compared to deploying an ESL for the same product.

However, for items that are highly promotional the ESLs benefits start to come into their own. For items that are highly price volatile ESLs start to make a lot of sense. A single ESL could get through thousands of price changes during its lifetime without any human interaction and related cost, this is alongside the compliance improvements and the ability to compete effectively.

Updating the ESLs in store using ECS5 is straightforward and can be done at any time of the day or night and without the need for expensive IT oversight.

However, we have seen examples where the till systems may be restricted to overnight updates and cannot receive central price updates on demand. Clearly, this limitation can reduce some of the advantages of ESLs.

Extended ESL Features

To extend benefits of electronic shelf labels, additional features beyond the ability to show a price label are being added.

One of the common features found on modern ESLs is a bright LED that can be flashed on demand to attract attention.

This feature is increasingly used by in store pickers preparing orders for click and collect or home delivery services.

Are there downsides to ESLs?

Yes, when compared to paper the resolution available is much less than a budget laser printer can achieve. This can result in pixelated or blocky text and the need to use larger font sizes to make the text clear and readable.

The net result is that it is not possible to fit as much detail on an ESL when compared to the same size paper sign.

It is, however, true that much of the store facing information that is often printed on a paper sign is not required in an automated ESL environment.

In addition to the limited resolution, ESLs are usually available only in a limited two color or three-color formats. Although more colors are available, the cost rises rapidly with more colors.  When compared to full color printed material with vibrant images the ESLs come a distant second in terms of look and feel.

While it is possible to promote using ESLs in the same way as using paper shelf edge labels, marketing teams will possibly feel underwhelmed by Electronic Shelf Labels and are highly likely to want to support marketing campaigns with additional full color paper signage. Or increasingly with video signage.

This can reduce some of the ROI benefits of ESL as this promotional signage must be deployed and removed manually.

Smart Signage and Digital Media with ECS5

electronic price tag and signage solutions with ECS5

By Digital Media we are referring to the large TV screens which are capable of video as well as static images.

We often see TV screens in store turned off, playing out of date content or showing only the most generic of advertisements. The main reason for this is the effort involved in keeping the media up to date and relevant to the available in store promotions.

We have integrated our price and promotions systems into our media publishing systems so we are able to dynamically update price and promotions in near real time on advertisements throughout the store estate.

This can be mixed with video clips to create a composite media show that is always up to date and relevant to the promotions on offer at any time.

This is also able to deal seamlessly with differential store pricing and different store product ranging.

ECS Global believes there is a positive ROI when using electronic signage but for each retailer, there is an appropriate blend of paper, ESL and Digital Media that gives the best blend of reduced labor, improved compliance, and competitive advantage.

ECS5 is able to drive all the elements of store communication from a single system, whether the output is traditional paper POS, ESL or Digital media, we are able to control from a single point.  This ensures consistency across all the different media types through a single management interface.

By choosing the correct blend of the available technologies it is possible to recognize the benefits of each unique output medium giving the best possible blend of cost savings, consistency, compliance, and shopper experience.

Contact Us to Learn More About ECS5

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