A UK multiple will start trialling electronic shelf edge labels in a store next month from French ESL specialist Store Electronic Systems. If the trial is successful, the technology will be rolled out across the estate. UK supermarkets considered the technology several years ago, but are only now starting to take it seriously as techniques have improved and costs have come down. The new breed of labels use radio transmissions ­ as opposed to infra red ­ to communicate information to customers such as price and loyalty card points. More significantly, they can be used to communicate information to staff and category managers about stock levels or the number of facings a product must have to adhere to planograms. In Ireland Superquinn is trialling the technology, and Musgrave is talking to ESL providers after seeing its successful implementation in stores on the Continent. Several hundred stores in France are kitted out with ESL, and the technology is also becoming more widespread in the Netherlands and Germany. In the US, where the public is more open to price flexibility between stores of the same chain according to time and location, the technology is used to create happy hours, and progressively reduce prices on perishables according to stock levels. NCR Corporation said ESL gave store managers the opportunity to be more creative about pricing as well as freeing up staff in the store. European director for electronic shelf edge labelling Hans Frei said one of the top three grocery retailers in the US is now committed to a roll out with NCR in a deal that will dramatically raise awareness of the technology. Teather & Greenwood retail analyst Dave Stoddart said variable pricing was a key tool for retailers. "Retailers ought to be making assets sweat. It won't make the store look dramatically different but it will alter the shelf design and the way products are merchandised at different times of the day." l See page 28 {{NEWS }}