Europe held the largest share of the total ESL market in 2016, and the market in Europe is witnessing a significant growth due to the early adoption of ESLs in the region. ESL solutions were first launched in France in 1991. Hence, Europe got a head start in the ESL market, and the region currently holds the largest share of the overall ESL market; however, the ESL market is also growing globally at a significant rate. Furthermore, the highest CAGR of the market in APAC is attributed to the globalization and development of the organized retail sector in APAC:
Key Market Dynamics in Electronic Shelf Label Market
Driver: Trending retail automation
The technological revolution, in terms of automation, across the retail industry has proved effectively beneficial for retailers. The inclination of this industry toward reducing the total operational costs by eliminating manual operations in stores is propelling the adoption of automation solutions across the retail industry. The trending retail automation is also fueling the adoption of electronic shelf labels (ESLs) across all type of retail stores, including hypermarkets, supermarkets, and specialty stores. Furthermore, the implementation of these digital price tags in retail stores enables dynamic and omnichannel pricing; it also helps reduce labor input by eliminating manual operations. Furthermore, the ESLs can also allow retailers to reuse the tags with low maintenance costs. These features can effectively accelerate the adoption of ESLs, thereby driving the growth of the market.
Restraint: High expenses of installation and supporting infrastructure
Deployment of ESL technology might seem costly for the unorganized retailers, as a retailer needs to implement additional shelves that are electrified to accept the ESL tags or be compatible with ESLs, which in turn increases the installation expenses. In addition, retailers/companies always analyze the benefits of any technology before deploying it, with regard to their investment and time taken for the return on investment (ROI). For an unorganized retail market in economically developing countries, such as South Korea and India, the cost of technology is a major restraint as the deployment of these labels also demands the supporting infrastructure, which calls for large investments for small- and medium-scale retailers. The retail industry in India is in a nascent stage, where the population lacks the knowledge of the principles of modern retailing. In these markets, retailers are not willing to invest much in the technology because the operational cost for modern retailing is already high; for instance, high rentals, expensive manpower, and price wars lead to increased costs. Therefore, the high installation expenses are likely to hinder the market throughout the forecast period.
Opportunity: Promising growth in emerging economies due to growing retail automation
Over the recent years, the developing economies have emerged as promising retail automation markets. Retailers are successfully adopting retail automation solutions, such as ESLs, that can cater to the increasing number of middle-class consumers. Retail automation enables improved customer satisfaction, reduced shopping time, and lowered wastage, along with cost saving. It also helps enhance customer experience and, subsequently, boost sales. The growth potential of the retail automation market in emerging economies is one of the major opportunities for the electronic shelf label market. Furthermore, the automation products are prominently deployed in developed countries, whereas some developing countries, such as Egypt, Yemen, Sweden, China, and South Korea, have also begun to deploy the automation products in the retail sector owing to the high growth opportunities they offer. The countries in Asia and the Middle East are among the countries that are in the growth stage in the retail automation market, thereby holding huge space for electronic shelf label deployment in the retail infrastructure. These emerging markets are expected to drive the electronic shelf label market in the near future.
Challenge: Low labor cost in economically developing countries
The availability of labor at low prices in economically developing countries such as India, South Korea, China, and South Africa—is significantly restricting the adoption of automation solutions in the retail industry operating in these countries. Automation of retail space has a little or no economic value in these countries, as cheap labor is abundant and readily available. The adoption of retail automation solutions, such as ESLs, in retail stores mandates the upgrading of existing infrastructure, thereby increasing the total installation expenses. In addition, the ESLs deployed in a retail space communicate through NFC, which is the preferable means of communication within the store among other communication technologies. The NFC-based apps and infrastructure are costly, and thus, retailers prefer the manual operation across their stores rather than upgrading the stores with ESLs.
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