Market Demand for ESL Standardization
There are tens of billions of paper labels globally that could be replaced with Bluetooth Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL), representing an enormous addressable market. However, by the end of 2022, ABI Research estimates that the installed base of ESLs reached 788 million units. This means that the ESL market has barely scratched the surface of its true market potential. One of the major reasons for this has been ESL market fragmentation.
At the same time, some retailers have held back in adopting ESL and retail IoT technologies for fear of a technology becoming obsolete or the promise of something better in the future. The need to deploy multiple infrastructures, concerns over interoperability, security and privacy concerns, the need to support a long-term retail strategy, and a lack of education or complexity in deployment or maintenance are further barriers.
With many ESL vendors reporting record revenue over the last few years, ESL is clearly poised to become a fundamental component of future retail store digitization, enabling better customer engagement and experiences, local fulfillment, greater store automation, more efficient operations, and more frictionless checkout experiences. However, as successful large-scale smart retail deployments increasingly rely on interoperability, information gathering, and sharing across many different use cases, retailers will need to avoid siloed solutions that are incapable of working effectively with each other and will increasingly look towards open and modular platforms enabled by open standards. This will enable ESLs to become just one part of a wider smart retail wireless network that is able to aggregate and analyze data from several different use cases and devices to generate more intelligent insights and services. To achieve this and to accelerate this market further, large retailers demanded the standardization of ESL technology to better deliver simple-to-deploy, low-cost, low-power, interoperable, highly secure, and future-proof ESL solutions that are available from multiple vendors and capable of delivering on multiple use cases.
One technology that has delivered a standards-based approach to the ESL and smart retail market is Bluetooth® technology.