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Who Invented Electronic Shelf Labels?

The concept started in the early 1990s and while it is difficult to pinpoint an original creator, some retail tech manufacturers have claimed to be the first ones to have ESLs in stores around the mid-1990s.

Electronic shelf labels or ESLs are digital tags that have transformed how retailers do business. Aside from acting as price labels, ESLs mainly function to help store owners manage their signage and what they display. Additionally, the current generation of electronic shelf labels also acts as communication stations and display screens. They are integral to helping retailers automate many of their operations to improve their overall performance and boost their sales.

The First ESLs

The concept started in the early 1990s and while it is difficult to pinpoint an original creator, Swedish retail tech manufacturer Pricer has claimed to be one of the first to have ESLs in stores around the mid-1990s. The initial generation of ESLs had a liquid-crystal display (LCD), similar to how calculators look. As a result, the earlier versions of electronic shelf labels were mainly used to display item prices and minimal product information. 


While these features pale in comparison to the ESLs now, these technological advancements were considered groundbreaking at the time. Additionally, these early electronic shelf labels paved the way for more advanced ESLs to be developed and introduced to the market much later.    

Game-Changer: The Introduction of E-Ink ESLs

SOLUM is the world’s leading manufacturer of electronic shelf labels. Unlike many of our counterparts, we have our own facilities to research and develop our ESL products. As a result, our company has been at the forefront of innovations when it comes to ESL technology. This includes electronic paper or e-paper technology, which is what many of the latest ESLs use today. 

Electronic Shelf Price label of JBL Speakers

Electronic Shelf Price label of JBL Speakers

E-paper is made up of capsules in a thin film that each emits different colors and electric charges. This makes the display mimic the look of ink on paper, allowing for more visually appealing and product-accurate store signage to be shown on the screen. Electronic paper displays mean that retailers no longer had to contend with boring, one-dimensional digital displays. Instead of printing everything, retailers could now use e-ink ESLs to show their colorful and dynamic store signage on a screen instead.

Switch to ESLs With Help from SOLUM

Bring your retail operations to the 21st century with Newton TOUCH and the rest of SOLUM’s digital solutions. We have worked hard to create innovative ESL products that have powerful and responsive features that help improve their business operations. Feel free to contact our sales team for more information, we have ESL options available for every type of business.  

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