DALLAS -- In what may be the first-ever test of electronic shelf labels at a convenience store, 7-Eleven here is evaluating the plastic shelf-pricing modules in its lab store in Plano, Texas.
The c-store chain, with more than 21,000 stores worldwide, will be assessing the ability of the wireless RealPrice ESLs, from NCR, Atlanta, to reduce labor costs, increase pricing accuracy and increase customer satisfaction, said Keith Morrow, vice president of information systems for the chain. NCR said this is the first test of its labels in a convenience store.
ESLs, which allow automatic price changes to be made from headquarters, have generally been a hard sell in the supermarket industry because of cost and ROI considerations. But convenience stores may be particularly suited to ESL technology since they typically run on very little labor, frequently relying on one employee, said Marc Lynn, sales director for the Americas for NCR's RealPrice. The system allows one person to control prices without leaving the front of the store.
Current 7-Eleven store policy on pricing is labor-intensive, Morrow noted, with many items being priced individually. He said the labels will also help with product ordering.
Morrow said he thinks the lower number of stockkeeping units carried by convenience stores, typically a few thousand for the average 7-Eleven store, makes the technology attractive as well. "We wouldn't have to put 40,000 in a store," as a supermarket would, he explained.
The cost per tag is between $4 and $5, according to Lynn. With software and infrastructure installment, the typical convenience store could implement an ESL system on every item in the store for under $20,000, he added.
Morrow said that as the current price trajectory on the technology continues downward, the technology will become more attractive from a cost standpoint to implement across a whole store.
7-Eleven began testing the ESLs in the Plano store in July on candy, refrigerated and frozen items, and plans a long-term trial. The chain is also testing customer acceptance through feedback and employee observation.