Southern Co-op to roll out electronic shelf labels after pilot success

The society hopes the rollout, set to finish at the end of next year, will save £220,000 a year

Southern Co-op is to roll out electronic shelf labels (ESELs) across its stores after a successful trial period.

The retail society has been testing two types of ESEL since December 2020, gradually widening the trial to 15 stores over the past 12 months.

The society says it has “astoundingly positive feedback” from staff who say they could not stand to go back to paper labelling, and has agreed to invest in a roll out across its estate towards the end of 2022 and throughout 2023.

Adam Skiller, manager of Southern’s Stockbridge Road, Chichester, store, which has had the ESELs for 19 months, said: “They make such a difference. 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 society hopes to save £220,000 a year in paper and consumable costs such as printing with the tech, manufactured by SoluM, a Samsung invested company, which is run in partnership with Cambridge-based technology integrator, Herbert Retail.

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

Mark Barnett, Southern’s retail transformation project lead, 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.”