Electronic Shelf Labels: A Brief History

Electronic Shelf Labels, or ESLs, are predicted to become a billion-dollar industry in the next few years. With the growing conversation surrounding the supply chain, these labels could be a major asset for your store’s inventory system. Here’s a rundown of the three generations of ESLs produced so far. 


Initially rolled out in the early 90s, the first ESL used technology that looked more like a calculator. They used LCD screens and had limited room for information, so they were primarily used to show only the price. The initial hangups with this iteration were the speed of the data updates and the need for a power source for the screens. 


The next version of the tech improved on the downside of its predecessor. Using E-paper, the second generation allowed for a better display of the data. Additionally, E-paper uses infrared communication like the first generation but added the option of radio communication. The latter improved transmission time for the tag updates. 


This is the current generation of ESL. While the fact that these labels use the same E-paper and radio communication as the second generation, these largely improve the use of the tech and integrate more. They have the ability to use digital signage, people counters, and electronic article surveillance which can combat theft. If this doesn’t seem like much, consider the ability retailers have to hyper-target customers based on their precise location within the store. 

The benefits of incorporating an ESL system in your store go beyond marketing. You can integrate the tech with your back-end software, and ensure real-time stock information is available for you and your customers. This makes it easier to stock shelves, combat shrink, order efficiently, and run an optimized store! 

Ready to integrate Electronic Shelf Labels in your store? Speak to a representative today!