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U.S. retailers finally using electronic price tags, the answer to smartphone showrooming

Popular in Europe for years, American brands are taking to electronic price tags to deal with rapidly changing prices and trying to make good on their low price guarantees.


Electronic price tags have been around for a long time

More and more retailers are investing in electronic price tags – digital displays on products that can be updated quickly and easily from a central control. Digital displays are advantageous for a number of reasons. Without them, individual product tags must be changed manually – a time consuming and tedious task.

With electronic price tags, many or all of the displays in the store can be changed simultaneously. This is especially important for stores like Nebraska Furniture Mart, who recently switched to digital tags, because they have pledged to offer the lowest prices in the market for furniture, electronics, and appliances.

The answer to shoppers with smartphones

Customers shopping in stores are increasingly using their smartphones to price compare or “showroom” products by searching on sites, like, that offer listings from various merchants. Stores can use digital displays to quickly and conveniently lower prices to beat the competition, or to fulfill their “lowest price” guarantees.

Said Bloomberg Business news, smartphone showrooming “shows the latest way online shopping is changing the in-store experience,” and retailers are responding with electronic tags. Electronic tags have been around for over ten years, gaining popularity in Europe, but have not been seriously considered in the US until smartphone price comparing put the pressure on stores to compete with online retailers.

Digital displays are no small investment

They cost around five dollars per tag, which could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a large store. However, according to Altierre Corp, a San Jose manufacturer of electronic price tags, “most retailers achieve a return on their investment within 12 to 18 months.” Retailers using digital displays, such as Kohl’s, report that they boost profits by saving on payroll with e-tags. The Defense Department’s Commissary uses digital displays, and says it eliminates price discrepancies between the tag and the cash register, and reduces customer complaints and returns.

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According to Gary Glaser, the director of US sales at digital displays manufacturer, Pricer AB, e-tags are “starting to gain a lot more interest. Over the next year or two, you’ll see a lot more retailers rolling them out.” So far, most of Pricer’s US customers are furniture, wine, and book retailers.


Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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