What are some of the major market challenges with ESLs, and how does Bluetooth technology help you meet them?
Communication between diverse IoT devices within a store can be challenging when not using the same protocol. Bluetooth® LE facilitates the integration with third-party Bluetooth LE-enabled products (sensors/existing Bluetooth enabled devices) and enables entirely connected stores.
The cost of a dedicated infrastructure can be another challenge. Rollouts can depend on proprietary communication protocols, calling for additional infrastructure hardware and costs to support a move to ESL for retailers. SES-imagotag already offers infraless deployments with select access points partners, and the addition of Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) integration into the portfolio allows for a similar approach, reusing an existing Bluetooth LE-compatible infrastructure to lower the cost of entry of rolling out ESLs for smaller retailers.
Similarly, based on heavy costs for a full ESL deployment, some markets might not be ready to adopt ESLs at scale. Bluetooth LE might help increase and quicken smart label adoption in these regions.
Can you talk about the benefits Bluetooth ESLs bring to retail and industrial markets?
Bluetooth® ESLs bring similar benefits to retailers as HF or radio-based ESLs, i.e., pricing automation, centrally managed price tickets and updates, and operational efficiency throughout various store processes.
In addition, Bluetooth technology unlocks interesting avenues to explore, such as easier integration with third-party sensors and devices that could be used for proximity-based interactions through Bluetooth compatible smartphones. With energy harvesting capabilities, we could also imagine having battery-less devices or devices with a longer battery life. Lastly, we could mention the positioning capabilities that can help retailers get more efficient at in-store picking and more granular on how shoppers navigate and engage with products.
Can you provide some examples of how Bluetooth ESLs will improve operational efficiencies?
With Bluetooth® ESLs, real-time automation will be enhanced, resulting in increased responsiveness, accuracy, and quality of pricing execution.
With Bluetooth® ESLs, real-time automation will be enhanced, resulting in increased responsiveness, accuracy, and quality of pricing execution at the store or retail chain level.
First, Bluetooth ESLs eliminate the need for time-consuming and error-prone manual updates. This allows associates to focus on more important tasks.
Second, Bluetooth ESLs simplify inventory management by also providing real-time updates on pricing, availability, and other important information. This allows retailers to automate price changes, track inventory levels, and avoid errors, resulting in greater accuracy, cost savings, and better control of inventory levels.
Finally, providing accurate, real-time information on product availability and location also reduces inventory stock-outs and waste and improves shelf availability and merchandising compliance.
Can Bluetooth ESLs be used in environments with high levels of interference, such as retail stores with a lot of electronic equipment?
Yes, Bluetooth® ESLs can be used in environments with high levels of interference, including retail stores with a lot of electronic equipment. This is because Bluetooth technology uses frequency hopping to avoid interference from other wireless devices.
SES-imagotag conducted tests in real-life retail environments to demonstrate the reliability of their Bluetooth enabled ESLs. These tests have been conducted in busy retail environments with high levels of electromagnetic interference, such as supermarkets with multiple Wi-Fi networks, cellular networks, and other electronic devices. The results showed that Bluetooth technology was able to provide reliable communication between the ESLs and the central server with no interference issues reported.
What is the expected battery life of Bluetooth ESLs, and how does it compare to other technologies?
The expected battery life of Bluetooth® ESLs depends on several factors, such as the frequency of updates, display size, and the type of battery used. Typically, an ESL’s battery power lasts several years, depending on the usage and conditions. This is comparable to other wireless technologies, such as Zigbee and Wi-Fi. However, Bluetooth LE used in Bluetooth ESLs is designed to be power efficient, which helps to extend battery life.
What is the cost of implementing Bluetooth ESLs compared to other wireless communication technologies?
The Bluetooth® 5.4 Specification is an important advancement in the world of wireless communication.
The answer to this question varies greatly from one situation to the next. In a typical ESL deployment using a proprietary protocol, retailers must account for investing in the ESL plus supporting connectivity infrastructure. In the case of a Bluetooth® ESL deployment, an infraless solution, i.e., using existing connectivity infrastructure, is an option that could help lower the initial hardware investment.
In other words, when the technology matures, Bluetooth ESL deployments should be similar in cost as infraless deployments, such as SES-imagotag’s, using integrations with infrastructure partners to remove the need for dedicated access points.
Do you have any plans to support the recently released Bluetooth Specification 5.4 in your future product offerings?
As a global leader in digital solutions for physical retail, we are constantly evaluating and researching the latest technological advancements to improve our products and services. The new Periodic Advertising with Responses (PAwR) feature and the new Bluetooth® ESL profile are important advancements in the world of wireless communication, which we plan to fully explore for future product offerings.
Our R&D and product development teams are actively investigating the capabilities and benefits of the new PAwR feature and the new Bluetooth ESL profile, and we are exploring how it could enhance the functionality and performance of our existing products or enable us to launch new products.