Sunday, April 20, 2008

Digital shelf pricing

New technology could enable retailers to change prices daily (or hourly, for that matter):

With the click of a mouse, the local grocery store could drop prices for a happy hour sale, and just as easily, with another click, return prices back to normal in time for the dinner rush.

That turnaround is currently impossible because thousands of paper price tags line the shelves. San Jose-based Altierre Corp. is trying to change that with digital-label technology.

The company is one of many that has developed electronic shelf labels (ESL) to help grocery stores reduce costs and maximize sales by going digital. Altierre's wireless pricing system is scheduled to line grocery shelves later this year.

Cool. Hook it up with an RFID-enabled shopping cart, I scan my loyalty card when I come in, and the store changes prices as I walk down the aisle, setting prices based on my degree of price-sensitivity as demonstrated by my past purchases.

OK -- maybe we're not there yet. There are more mundane reasons for it -- like saving a bunch of time on price changes, and having the same price on the shelf and at the cash register, and matching competitive prices quickly.

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