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    Instant Video: Walmart's New Digital Shelf-Labels & Shopper Feedback

    Shelf + technology. Not two words you normally associate.

    Store shelves, after all, have remained largely unchanged for decades, seemingly impervious to all the technological innovation around them.  

    But 2019’s already shaping up to be a transformative year for retail shelving. Two grocery juggernauts, Kroger and Walmart, have made headlines of late by experimenting with digital shelves/price labels.


    Walmart Digital Shelf Labels - LED vs E-INK

    Just a couple of weeks ago we published video of Kroger’s new Microsoft-powered EDGE shelves, currently on-display inside two Kroger-owned stores, along with shopper sentiment toward the technology. 

    And then the news hit that Walmart is presently testing two digital shelf-labels at a pair of supercenters in Rogers, Arkansas. As pictured, one store is experimenting with e-Ink labels, positioned one-by-one along the shelf, while the other store is piloting a radiant LED-strip model that runs continuously from one end of the shelf to the other.


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    Instant Video: Walmart Tests Digital Shelf-Labels


    This weekend, retail-auditing and insights firm Field Agent deployed nine agents to both Arkansas-based Walmart stores, so they could compare the benefits and drawbacks of e-Ink versus LED labels. 

    The video immediately below offers an up-close look at both digital shelf-labels, complete with shopper commentary.

    Scroll even further down to read what these nine shoppers thought about Walmart's new digital shelf-labels, and to learn which shelf label—e-Ink, LED, or traditional—they most prefer.




    Shopper Feedback: Digital Shelf-Labels at Walmart


    Field Agent posed a series of questions to all nine agents. Because each participant visited both stores, examining both types of shelf labels, they could effectively compare and contrast e-Ink and LED shelf labels.

    Here are the questions we asked, along with their responses:


    1. Describe the e-Ink and LED shelf labels in just one line each.

    e-Ink Labels:

    • "I absolutely love the clear, easy-to-read signs that make it quick to compare prices and make a selection."
    • "To me, the digital labels are not particularly eye-catching. The fact that they are white, gray, and black makes them blend in with the gray shelving."
    • "I think it's a really neat idea and makes me think of the store as more high-tech or up-to-date."
    • "They are a little hard to read if there is a glare on them. Other than that they grab your attention."

    LED Labels:

    • "Very eye-catching as you walk the main aisle, but the LEDs are quite pixelated, making it a little bit difficult to read."
    • "They were very bright and difficult to read."
    • "The digital labels are large and impossible to miss."
    • "I really like the new innovative way to see pricing."


    2. What words would you use to describe both the e-Ink and LED labels? Below we share the most commonly used word for both labels.

    • e-Ink: "clear" (mentioned by four different agents)
    • LED: "bright" (mentioned by four different agents, right in front of "pixelated," mentioned by three different agents)


    3. Which one emoji best captures how you feel toward both the e-Ink and LED labels? Below is the top emoji associated with each label.

    e-Ink Labels:

    🤔 (4 responses)

    LED Labels:

    😎😐 (2 responses each)

    4. If forced to choose between e-Ink and LED labels, which would you prefer?

    • I'd prefer the e-Ink labels over LED labels: 5 (of 9) participants
    • I'd prefer the LED labels over e-Ink labels: 4 participants  


    5. If given the choice between e-Ink, LED, and traditional (non-digital) shelf labels, which would you choose? 

    • I'd prefer the e-Ink labels over LED labels: 4 (of 9) participants
    • I'd prefer the LED labels over e-Ink labels: 3 participants  
    • I'd prefer traditional, non-digital labels: 2 participants


    The Bottom Line? The jury is still out on which digital shelf-label—e-Ink, LED, or even just-leave-it-alone—shoppers might prefer. Of course, because Walmart is only just starting to experiment with digital labels in its stores, it's uncertain what the retail giant could eventually roll out to thousands of locations.

    Time will tell...but the wheels are turning. 


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