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Test Shoppers Found Kroger's Digital Shelf Tags 'Influential' – How Do They Feel About Walmart's?

Test Shoppers Found Kroger's Digital Shelf Tags 'Influential' – How Do They Feel About Walmart's?
Market research firm Field Agent sent test shoppers to Walmart to assess the mega-retailer's new digital shelf labels

Much like rival grocer Kroger started doing last month, Walmart is testing digital shelf labels at two stores, trialing LED tags at one and e-ink tags at another, both in Rogers, Ark. Further, a new report from Fayetteville, Ark.-based market research firm Field Agent has found that while shoppers prefer them over the traditional tags, things get more complicated when they're asked to select their digital favorite.

Currently, the digital labels are being tested in the baked goods aisle with the help of an "outside partner," Arkansas news outlet Talk Business & Politics reported. The two types involved are:

  • E-ink tags, which most resemble paper price labels or visuals on an e-book device, and can feature black-and-white text or three color options: red, yellow and black
  • LED strips mounted over the entire length of the shelf edges, featuring full-color graphics and able to play ads, show product reviews and more

Of the nine test shoppers whom Field Agent sent to the stores, the majority (seven) preferred the digital labels over their traditional counterparts. However, whether they preferred LED or e-ink was another story: When all were asked to choose either the LED or e-ink labels as their preferred type – if not given the option of traditional labels –  five chose e-ink, while four chose LED.

But arguably more interesting and important were the comments made about each type:

  • For the e-ink tags, one shopper praised the "clear, easy-to-read signs" that make comparing prices "quick." However, one shopper said that the black-and-white color scheme blends in with the gray shelving, and another called them "attention-grabbing," but a little hard to read when a glare is on them.
  • For the LED strips, one shopper called them "large and impossible to miss," and another referred to them as "eye-catching." However, two other shoppers found them "difficult to read," with one calling them "very bright," and the other noting that they were "quite pixelated."

Field Agent also recently sent test shoppers to check out the digital tags being tested at Kroger's two test stores – one in the Seattle area and one near Cincinnati. Like the Walmart shoppers, these also preferred the digital tags to their traditional counterparts.

With 11,200-plus stores under 55 banners in 27 countries and ecommerce websites, employing more than 2.2 million associates worldwide, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2018 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States, while Kroger is No. 2, as well as PG's 2018 Retailer of the Year.

About the Author

Randy Hofbauer

Randy Hofbauer is the former digital and technology editor of Progressive Grocer. He has more than a decade of experience as a content strategist, researcher and marketer, almost all of it covering CPG retailing. His insights and work have been cited in a number of media outlets, including The New York Times, the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune, and he was named a finalist in the Software & Information Industry Association's 2018 Emerging Leader Awards. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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