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EXCLUSIVE: Westside Market NYC Discovers a Love of Labels and More

State-of-the-art tech from VusionGroup helps grocer keep its prices up to date, monitor shelves and engage shoppers
Westside Market NYC VusionGroup Captana System Main Image
As well as deploying VusionGroup's electronic shelf labels, Westside Markets NYC has implemented the tech company's Captana computer vision system to monitor product on shelves.

On a recent visit to the Westside Market NYC location in the heart of the city’s historic Chelsea district – mere steps from the famous Chelsea Hotel, home at various times to many of the world’s most iconic artists – Progressive Grocer encountered a different kind of artistry: cutting- edge electronic shelf labels and real-time shelf-monitoring capability that allow the independent grocer to easily keep its prices current and replenish shelves when items need to be replaced.

The ESLs, which perfectly replicate the look of paper labels – to the extent that less tech-savvy shoppers may not even notice that they’re digital – are in place at all seven of Westside’s stores. (Later, PG was shown the versatility of the solution during a quick visit to a nearby PC Richard store that also features the labels, customized to the electronics retailer’s specific needs.) Meanwhile, Vusion’s Captana shelf-monitoring systems, which use computer vision, and its Engage rails – interactive displays that enable retailers and brands to collaborate on digital campaigns in physical stores – are being piloted in the United States at the Chelsea store.

[RELATED: What Leading Grocers Are Saying – and Advising – About AI]

PG spoke to Michael Bonanza, manager of the Chelsea store, which is the location in the chain using these solutions most extensively, and Loic Oumier, EVP communications and marketing at VusionGroup, the French company providing the tech that make the systems possible.

Westside Markets NYC Vusion Group Engage Rail ESLs Main Image
The beer section of the Chelsea Westside Market NYC features Vusion's interactive Engage rail, which enables retailers and brands to collaborate on digital campaigns in physical stores.

Progressive Grocer: How did Westside and VusionGroup come together to work on these solutions?

Loic Oumier: The U.S. market is very important for us. It’s a huge driver of growth for us, and we see that the momentum is really gaining in the U.S. at the moment. We are really focusing on grocery in the U.S. As part of this, we wanted also to have a presence in New York, because it’s a very big city, so we wanted to [offer] our productivity to many retailers here, and that’s basically how we decided to work with Westside. 

PG: Do you find that having this ESL solution is easier than when you had paper labels? 

Michael Bonanza: Oh, definitely. This is easier in a sense that one, it’s easier for customers. The price is always accurate, because whatever scans in the system is what displays on the sign. And two, [there are] no mistakes. We just prevent the mistakes, and I get positive feedback from customers too, that it looks nice, they like it, and also everything’s just accurate.

PG: And it’s easy to change as well? 

MB: Yeah, very, very easy. 

PG: Did Westside have any specific requirements, things that they specifically needed in terms of the shelf labels that were specific to them? 

LO: The way projects are displayed here [at Westside] in a very clear way, the promotions, like two for something on the label and so on, that’s not very usually seen. The template of the label was designed to match the website and the original brand image here. Usually, we try to have our solutions design scale it, and then we always have a project management phase, where we will tailor it to the retailer specifically, because every retailer is different [and] has different processes. 

PG: What other solutions is VusionGroup working on with regard to shelf labels or anything else that are about to roll out to stores?

LO: Captana, the camera solution, that’s definitely one. It’s an AI solution. Basically, we take pictures of shelves through the camera system [but not people, because of privacy concerns]. 

MB: We can see the out-of-stock items, pretty much all the information.

PG: So, depending on its performance here, it will roll out to other Westside stores? 

LO: That’s usually what we do. So, for this Captana solution, our intent is to fit into the existing processes, not to add complexity and so on, but indeed, there needs to be a usage for it. So, we are monitoring shelf products and produce as well, and we’re hoping to deploy it in August for sure. On that particular solution, the camera solution – AI solutions [in general] – there’s a lot of interest. We wanted to play with AI.


Want to learn more about this trending industry topic? The top retailers  and solution providers in grocery will be talking about all of these innovations and so much more at Progressive Grocer's annual GroceryTech event in Dallas on June 5-7. Click here for more information and to register now. 

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