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ESL 101: What are Electronic Shelf Labels for?

Displaying product information is what Electronic Shelf Labels are for, initially, but they can also be used for other purposes such as room signs, equipment labeling, and more.

When Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) were first invented before the turn of 2010, they were intended for the sole purpose of showing the products’ prices, which would explain why their screens were initially liquid crystal displays or LCD (like the screens on calculators) that can only show numbers and decimal points.


However, what Electronic Shelf Labels are for changed when ESL providers started adding new features to the label, like replacing the LCD screen with fully-graphic e-paper displays, or using communication protocols other than infrared. This evolution opened the door for ESLs to have different purposes in various industries.

#1 For Product Information Display in Retail

ESLs are still widely used in the retail industry, but with their modern features, they can now do more than just show prices: they can display other product information as well. The fully-graphic e-paper screen allows modern-day ESLs to display details like product name and variation, weight and volume, expiration date, and even nutritional information. 


Additionally, ESLs make price updates digital and automated, which is a huge advantage for big retail businesses like groceries, supermarkets, and department stores.

#2 For Rack Labeling in Warehouses

Another answer to the question “What are Electronic Shelf Labels for?” is rack labeling, specifically in warehouses and distribution centers. This is because modern ESLs like SOLUM’s Newton label are built with Location-based Services (LBS). 


LBS is a geolocation feature that allows the staff to digitally locate the rack or shelf they are looking for within the vast warehouse facility or distribution center, reducing the staff’s chances of getting lost and wasting time manually looking for packages and items among several rows of racks.

#3 For Room Signage in Hotels

ESLs may be initially invented for shelves, but they can go well beyond that. They can also be mounted on flat wall surfaces and function as room signage in hotels and resorts. And because of ESLs’ capability to display more information on their screens, they can also show if the room is occupied or vacant. 


Some ESLs like Newton labels can even use their built-in, 7-colored LED Indication feature to use the different light colors to visually signal a room’s state. For example, a red light can indicate that the room is already occupied, a green one if it is vacant, a blue one if it needs housekeeping, and an orange one if the guest does not want to be disturbed.

#4 For Factory Equipment

Even in the manufacturing industry, ESLs can be useful. But what are electronic shelf labels for in a factory setting? The answer depends on the type and brand of the digital label. Often,  digital labels as wide as 11” are mounted on big factory types of equipment to display the machine’s safety instructions or directions on how to properly operate it. Meanwhile, labels as small as 2-inch wide are used for labeling important bins.

#5 For Hospital Signage

Because multiple ESLs are centralized and can be monitored and managed using one label management system, they can also be used as hospital signages. The digital labels can serve as hospital room signage, patient bed labels, and nursery bassinet labels.


The labels’ capability to show several patient information and be updated in real-time reduces the chances of human error that tend to happen when using paper-based labels.


These are just a few of the many uses of ESLs. Do you want to know more on what Electronic Shelf Labels are used for? Contact us today!

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