The prospect of a new IT project can make the heart sink: day-to-day operations have to be put on hold as the system is installed, teething problems invariably arise, and IT’s time is taken up with working out how to manage a new infrastructure.
We understand these challenges that that’s why we’ve designed our Electronic Shelf Label (ESL) to be different. We have the lightest centrally-managed infrastructure in the industry – some of our competitors need multiple servers in-store to run their ESL technology, but our whole system can be managed from software in your head office. In addition, the solution is easier to install, manage, secure and maintain.
Easy to install
In store we install wireless communicators, small devices powered over Ethernet, which enable communication between head office and each label. Typically a communicator covers about 50,000 square feet of store space, connecting up to 65,000 labels, which offers sufficient coverage that if one stops working for any reason, you’re not left with any blackspots.
The way our solution works, means that we can carry out deployment with minimal disruption to the store and customers. In fact, it involves no more than putting up a few brackets to hold the communicators. The communicators automatically configure, so there’s no need to hire cherry pickers or close the store for installation.
Simple to manage
Our system is also easy to manage. When marketing asks for a price change, the IT team makes this centrally through a simple-to-use software platform. The platform allows them to not only change pricing, but other details such as inventory information, product data, promotions, stock levels, social media reviews currency details and more. Labels can be created and changed using drag and drop templates. We also provide an application interface that allows you to create your own label design, if you prefer.
Because our labels can send as well as receive information through true two-way communication, once a price change has been made, each label will send back confirmation that it’s happened. This provides an audit trail so that the IT team can show the marketing department which changes have been made, where, and when. Customisable reports mean we provide IT teams with the data they need and the visibility they require to oversee our infrastructure.
The labels will also send back their battery status and the ambient temperature at which they’re operating, giving IT staff the confidence to know that the batteries don’t need changing. If a battery is running low, staff will see an alert. (Our batteries typically last up to five years, so changes are infrequent.)
Scalable and secure
It’s easy to scale things too. If you want to add new lines in-store, or add more stores, then it’s simply a question of installing more communicators and adding more labels. There’s no need to put in more servers, controllers or switches in-store as is required with decentralised systems.
Security, of course, is paramount. Our wireless network operates on a sub 1 GHz radio frequency, which is not disrupted by the 2.4 GHz frequency typically used for staff and guest Wi-Fi. All messages to and from the labels are encrypted, and the system sits behind a firewall so you can have the confidence that it is free from external attack.
Easy to maintain
Maintenance can of course be a big burden with any IT system and with most ESL systems, equipment needs to be managed by the IT team. For example, every piece of server software has to be maintained and kept up-to-date by local stores. This can be expensive and you can end up with a mixed estate of software that’s harder to maintain. More hardware introduces failure points that could take the entire store offline. In contrast, our streamlined software and lightweight infrastructure requires less maintenance, so you can control costs and get all the benefits of an enterprise platform without complex IT eroding your margins.