Digital signage enables operators to update prices based on competitor pricing or to local conditions. Supplied: Davavation
On-shelf signage goes digital
Digitized on-shelf labels look clean (an important factor in a COVID-19 world!), are environmentally friendly and give operators more versatility to edit pricing.
“All of our stores use digital labels,” says John Douang, co-founder and CEO of Aisle 24, which is currently in six markets in Ontario, operational in B.C. and Quebec, and opening locations in Alberta, Manitoba and Atlantic Canada this year.
Read: Aisle 24 to expand 24/7 cashierless retail concept across Canada
Given its cashierless model, Douang says digital labels are “an important factor in how we control and make more efficient our operational labour input.” But he also recommends it to anyone looking to drive sales through data analytics.
“The labels allow you to adjust pricing immediately and regularly according to market conditions,” says Douang.
Aisle 24 uses several digital label products, including from Danavation, which this year added a Petro-Canada in Vegreville, Alta., and an Esso in York, Ont. as customers.
John Ricci, Danavation’s CEO, says it has one client who changes pricing at the end of every business day based on competitor pricing, while others use it to proactively react to local conditions.
“Whether a heat wave, storm or a local sports team winning a championship, the system allows you to respond and change pricing with just a keystroke, thereby capturing more margin or blowing out particularly inventory,” says Ricci.
Britt Mills, senior director of customer experience at Mobiquity, is bullish about digital on-shelf signage for both small and large operators. “While it allows for easier viewing in many cases of prices and product details, it also provides c-stores with greater versatility in stocking and shelf displays,” she says. “It’s much quicker and easier to edit signage, advertise deals and promote a store’s branded and limited-time products with digital signage.”
The future of checkout
With consumers looking to get in and out of stores quickly, many experts believe an autonomous checkout option will gain favour.
In Phoenix, Circle K is piloting contactless, autonomous checkout with Standard Cognition. Using its ceiling-mounted cameras and machine vision software, Circle K is enabling customers to shop and walk out with their purchases without having to scan them or wait in line to pay.
Transactions are processed through an app, which customers check into before going into the store. Or they can pay at the cashier, without the need for anything to be scanned since the AI has tracked what the customer has picked up and relayed the information to the cashier.
Standard Cognition spokesperson Alex McClure told Convenience Store News Canada that “the pilot is going well and we are working alongside Circle K to bring it to general availability.”
Exxon Mobil has eliminated friction from the process of buying fuel at the dispenser by enabling customers to use their vehicle’s Alexa-enabled voice recognition functionality (“Alexa, pay for gas!”).
Langdoc says c-store operators should look at other retail categories for inspiration, too. Nike, for instance, has a mobile app feature, Instant Checkout, that enables in-store shoppers to pick up an item, scan it and pay for it with their saved credit card.
“That ‘no lines, no waiting’ offering would be a hit with customers who find themselves frequently coming into their local c-store for only a handful of items, while running errands or on their way home from work,” he says.