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Source: Southern Co-op

It follows a trial that kicked off in December 2020 with one store

Southern Co-op is set to roll out electronic shelf labels across its entire estate.

It follows a trial that kicked off in December 2020 with one store, before gradually widening the pilot to a total of 15 sites over the past year.

The rollout across the rest of its 199-strong estate will take place until 2023. It is estimated that around £220,000 will be saved each year in paper and consumable costs such as printing.

“They make such a difference,” said Adam Skiller, store manager of Stockbridge Road in Chichester, which has had the ESLs for 19 months.

“We are able to save so much time and, from a wider perspective, I have got the confidence that all the prices are accurate.

“We are lucky really that the business is investing, looking forward and exploring how to make tasks easier in the store. We used to get through around 40 packs of paper for shelf edge labels a year so that is a huge saving in paper and financially.

“Overall, we really benefit and all the colleagues love it. Replacing all the paper labels, the job always fell to the same people and it is incredibly monotonous. So it does help with morale and it looks clean, tidy and organised.”

The cutting-edge technology is manufactured by SoluM, a Samsung invested company, and is run in partnership with Cambridge-based technology integrator Herbert Retail.

The installation programme was delivered in partnership with Scotmid Co-op, which is hoping to complete its ESL installation programme to all of its stores later this year.

Southern Co-op’s retail transformation project lead Mark Barnett said: “Since we started the trials, it is one of the things that I have had regular requests for. Store managers have been calling out for this technology as changing physical shelf labels is laborious and something no one wants to be burdened with.

“It’s a big investment but it’s worth it as our stores will have increased efficiency, assured pricing and product information, reduced paper wastage and an enhanced store team morale.

“It means promotions can change over as soon as a store opens its doors. Plus the larger electronic labels can display legal information such as allergens, Think25 messaging, and home delivery options.

“It is fast, accurate and offers our customers a seamless in-store experience.”