Bjorn Rencken, co-owner of the family run Ladysmith SPAR, says he has implemented Pricer electronic shelf labels (ESL) to support perpetual stock taking and a view to centralised pricing, consistently correct prices and updates, stock management, and shrinkage control for all nine of his family’s stores.
XON Retail deployed 12 000 Pricer labels at his Ladysmith SPAR store in July, 2017.
“The system is new to me so I’m discovering more opportunity as we progress but I’ve instructed my managers and my IT guy to investigate further possibilities based on the extended features of the system,” he says. “One of the biggest issues we immediately solved is making sure the price updates happen correctly so that what customers see at the shelf is what they pay at the till. In future we want to centralise price updates across all stores. We do our perpetual stock taking daily, category by category, checking a number of factors, including correct prices and shrinkage. That also helps ordering. We interrogate the shelves for 30 minutes each morning to check our rates of sale, stock on hand, and orders placed at the distribution centre, and that helps us to be more efficient and maintain supply.”
He adds that SPAR does not specify prices for product in the service departments so the Renckens will use the Pricer system to regulate prices consistently across the service departments in all nine of their own stores.
He also opted for the larger graphic displays in the service departments. They resemble e-readers with their electronic paper that clearly displays much information in large fonts that make it both attractive and clear to customers. They range in size from a 110mm diagonal display to tablet-sized 7,4” displays with up to three colours.
Ladysmith SPAR features the graphic displays in its fresh produce and meat service departments where the large label size makes prices clear to customers. The smaller, standard labels are used on the shelf edges where space is limited.
“Making manual price changes is a recipe for human error,” says Rencken. “It’s cumbersome, it takes time, and it requires a lot of people. That makes it expensive. And it’s important that customers can trust the prices they see on the shelves.”
Rencken says that controlling shrinkage is also problematic using manual systems.
“It’s difficult to contact a supplier and fight for stock that wasn’t delivered three months down the line. It’s much easier if it’s within two days,” he says, “because you can immediately check recent records and even cameras to confirm deliveries if you have to. That’s an important aspect because I don’t want to have to hide high value items behind counters, in drawers, or in cupboards. They should be visible to customers. Being able to constantly confirm stock levels means I can do that.”
Rencken says he has instructed his personnel to investigate the Pricer system for additional benefits that can add value to his operation and report to him on a monthly basis so that he can maximise his return on the investment.
“There are many potential positives in the system, which make the significant investment worth it, and exploiting them fully will make it easier for me to implement it at my other stores over the course of the next five years,” he says.
“Bjorn and his team are new customers but they’re already putting the system to good use and repaying the investment from day one,” says Annelise Ilderton, national sales manager at XON Retail. “Ensuring customer trust through consistent pricing between shelves and tills is a primary benefit of the system but Bjorn’s implementation in support of his perpetual stock-taking process is the kind of innovative and pragmatic digitalisation that retailers have to embrace during lean economic periods.”