Efficient and Fast ESL Integration with DocuMatrix
So, what is ESL?
ESL is the abbreviation for a new and innovative Electronic Shelf Labelling system for the retail trade. It is all about digital price labelling in retail shops, which initially means that—instead of the conventional card tag—small, digital displays are used to show the prices of the goods on the shelves. That’s not all by a long chalk, though, because after its implementation the system is linked to many other domains of a company. This enables data to be accessed centrally and uniformly so that system-wide data changes can be made quickly and easily. This no longer comprises just the price, but also product names, product descriptions and so on, right through to the graphic design of labels, which can all be controlled completely independently of the output medium. A simple, small display at a single location quickly becomes a large, colourful advertisement on a 62-inch screen in another location. This system can cover a branch store, a specific domain or even an entire retail region.
Technical implementation of the ESL solution in the retail trade
The ESL manager (a system that controls all the labels of a defined domain) invokes the program docPIPE via REST Call. The data that is to be placed on the label is supplied, for example, in the form of an XML or JSON data stream. The program then derives the required resolution and size from the metadata of the label’s final placement. After that, the image information is optimized for the display. In this case, special attention must be paid to the resolution, as most displays have a very coarse resolution and this can cause problems with the display of the barcodes.
As 100% of the development comes from its own company, DocuMatrix has this problem completely under control, and in its capacity as a software producer it is of course able to cope with all these challenges on a very individual basis.
With the system that has been created in this way, all graphic designs can now be implemented at the front end—by means of a practical and easy-to-use tool—by just about anybody, without any technical knowledge and without having to worry about the output format.
Furthermore, the DocuMatrix development team is currently working on an open source component that will soon be published on github. This will standardize the communication with ESL managers, thereby reducing the integration process to its greatest degree of simplicity.
An advantage obtained through the speed achieved in the work processes
The label data is independent of the output medium. This means that varying formats can be created and adapted at the push of a button. However, it is the SINGLE push of the button that is decisive in this because it saves a considerable amount of time in the company as a whole. This revolutionary system not only provides a workload relief for the staff who are responsible for graphically modifying the labels, but also for the staff who are kept from performing their actual sales function for hours every day by the manual placement and checking of the price labels on the shelves. The greatest advantage, though, is the speed at which it is possible to react to market events. Thanks to this single push of a button, system-wide and absolutely flexible pricing is possible in just a matter of minutes. For example, the price on the shelf then immediately matches the price at the checkout, special offers and promotions can be set flexibly and can even extend over an entire region. After all, putting parasols on sale is of no use to anyone, if it looks like rain!
In addition, the DocuMatrix ESL system provides another decisive advantage over all other systems: it makes child’s play of the administration of the various label components within defined domains. A common company name does not necessarily mean that the layout, output medium, language and price are the same at all branch stores. With DocuMatrix integration, though, the labels only have to be defined once, with a system-wide effect—regardless of which channel is being run! This provides yet another incredible simplification of work and increase in efficiency.
The innovative ESL proof of concept with Migros and DocuMatrix
The Swiss supermarket chain Migros with its successful proof of concept, is currently the pioneer for regional and cross-branch implementation of this innovative and future-orientated product.Together with DocuMatrix it ventured in August 2020 to take a further step towards a paperless future and in doing so also set in motion an exemplary process for a smooth changeover to a digital product. A problem-free test run in a retail operation was namely possible after only 3 weeks of the implementation phase.
Complete changeover is planned for the near future and Migros will then become one of the first companies in the industry to further digitize and optimize its work processes. So, in its capacity as an innovative pioneer, it is building on a promising system that will be of increasing importance in the future. We are convinced that many retail companies will follow its example in the next few years.
Digitization in the retail trade is all well and good, but …
No buts! This product has a future and in the long term it will be able to be applied in many other industries. Just think of the events sector and the various reservation systems. Seat allocations in cinemas, theatres and opera houses could soon be electronically organized uniformly or individually. Would you not be pleased, if your seat were to greet you personally after you have just bought your ticket: ‘Welcome Mr Smith! Please take your seat and we hope that you will enjoy the performance!’
Another conceivable area of application is warehouse logistics. This ranges from uniform, centrally controlled shelf management to delivery vehicles that are guaranteed to approach the correct door and that can be scheduled, rerouted and controlled in minute detail.