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Shelfrite electronic shelf edge labelling system is a computer
controlled system for placing the prices of goods on the shelves in major
supermarket stores, much more cost effectively than can be provided using
rival systems such as LCD displays.
At present retailers use product identification information that is printed
on the item being purchased and lookup the current price from their
database in the Point of Sale system. Product identification systems can be
the barcode system, an RFID system or even a numeric product number
attached to the goods. Because of using a computer database, it is very
easy for the store-owner to change the price when needed. However currently
the problem arises in that the customer needs to be informed what price
will be charged. Due to the lack of availability of cost effective
electronic display systems, at present the retailer has to print a label
called a "shelf-talker" and to physically place it below the product range
being displayed. This causes many problems as the retailer has to identify
the location of the product range and instal the label. Often the labels
get lost, are not updated by the retailer's staff, or are placed in the
wrong location. This leads to a problem in that the customer is charged a
different price to what they were expecting to pay, causing various legal
problems in various communities.
Single database for Point of Sale and Shelf Edge Labelling
Shelfrite was developed to solve this problem effectively. Using the same
database that is used for the point of sale system, and using another
database that shows the location of the different product lines on the
shelves, Shelfrite labels the product ranges with the correct prices.
In a Shelfrite store, a one inch wide rail with a plastic insert is
attached to the front of all the shelves. A mobile printer is placed on the
end of the rail and travels along the rail printing the image with prices,
adverts and publicity slogans. The printing ink sticks to the plastic rail
and does not wipe off with rubbing or water spilling, but comes off with a
light cleaning fluid when the prices need to be changed.
The printers use well known ink jet technology to deliver graphics
and price information to the print surface. Advertising slogans can be
inserted between the price labels. The print rails should be quite long
in a stretch and the printer should be able to travel at 0.5 meters per
second along the rails.
Price changes should be made when the store is empty of customers. The
software reads the new price lists for the point of sale terminals and
identifies which prices have changed. By cross referencing a the layout
database, the gondola shelves which have goods which have changed prices
are listed. The operator takes a printer from the managers office to the
first gondola shelf on the list of changes, wipes off the image down the
entire length of the rail, places the printer on the end and the printer
travels along the rail printing the new image. The operator then moves
the printer to the next shelf on the list of changes. As the entire rail
is reinked, it is not even necessary for the operator to know which specific
products on the shelves have changed price. At the end of the changes,
the printer is returned to the office. On an average day, prices should
be updated using this method in 10 minutes after closing. Three printers
can cater for a major superstore with 40 000 products.
Using this method, even if every item has to have its price changed
in the store (say with a tax change), this could be accomplished in about
This concept is patented in most of the major trading countries in the
world. In the USA, the system was found to be so novel, that the patent was
granted without an official objection from the examiner. The patents are
jointly owned by a South African Government organisation and a consortium
in which RFID have certain commercial rights. The intention of all owning
parties is to licence manufacturers to impliment this system.
Advantages and market needs
State of development
A concept demonstration model has been built to prove the concepts and
secure the patents. Photographs of this model are linked to this page below.
Major retaillers who have seen the demonstration have been very impressed with
the simplicity, effectiveness, and potential cost benefits of the system. What now
remains is for manufacturers to industrialise the and create a supply of systems
for use by the retail markets.
We are interested
in licensing partners to manufacture this exciting product and impliment
this technology throughout the world.
Touch here for
Photographs of demonstration version and graphics showing
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