Smart Shop with Electronic Shelf Labels

Price tags are so common that we hardly pay attention to them unless they inform us of interesting promotions. However, product information management is a much more interesting and technologically advanced topic than it might seem. But what is it?

Price tags not only contain basic customer information such as name, price, size, package capacity, weight and sometimes even a brief description or instructions, they also serve a marketing function by informing about discounts and promotions. In addition, they facilitate inventory management processes: they contain a barcode or a QR code that allows the product sold to be linked to the inventory status and the available quantity to be updated at the time of sale. 

What is the lifecycle of such a tag?

The answer is simple: as long as it contains current information. However, the world is dynamic - prices can change in a minute, and promotions come and go.

For physical tags, the need for updates creates many problems and challenges. On the one hand, replacing a single label is not such a time-consuming task. On the other hand, a single store may have tens of thousands of price tags that need to be updated.

In such a situation, printing new tags, locating products in the store, identifying outdated tags, and preparing new ones can consume hundreds of hours of staff time. Automating this task would free up employees to spend more time on customer service tasks or stocking shelves, which would clearly have a positive impact both on aisle organization, as well as the brand's sales results and on building customer relationships.

Smart Tags - a technology that saves hundreds of working hours

The solution to the problem of traditional tags is smart tags. Using an embedded display based on e-ink display technology, they display information that can be updated whenever needed. E-ink display technology, already widely implemented in e-book readers, is characterized by its low power consumption, which is only required only to change what is currently displayed.

For the system to work properly, remote management and updating of the information displayed on the store tag requires dedicated wireless, energy-efficient technology that provides two-way communication. The best tool for managing smart tags is two-way communication based on the Bluetooth version 5.4 standard and its new functionalities. 

Bluetooth Low Energy - a new version of the communication protocol

Bluetooth Low Energy technology enables communication between energy-efficient devices that do not require a constant connection. In this communication model, the transmitting device sends information (known as advertising) and any number of receiving devices can receive this information (known as scanning). This is an example of one-way communication in a one-to-many model. How about the two-way communication in this model?

In Bluetooth, one-way advertising that is sent cyclically is called periodic advertising. It was introduced in the Bluetooth 5.0 standard. The newer standard – Bluetooth 5.4 - introduces the possibility of two-way communication in the classic one-to-many model thanks to PAwR (periodic advertising with responses). With PAwR, scanning devices, such as smart tags, can send responses to the advertising device. This solution expands the list of applications for Bluetooth connectionless communication. For more technical details on PAwR, click here


Modern solutions significantly improve information management in stores. Here's how PAwR can support this process:

  • Two-way communication in a one-to-many model: PAwR enables communication between the transmitting device and multiple receiving devices (such as electronic tags in stores). This allows devices to respond to received messages and perform new functions (such as reporting data from sensors).
  • Scalability and flexibility: PAwR enables communication with thousands of devices that can be grouped according to the needs of a specific application.
  • Energy efficiency: PAwR-enabled devices can receive and transmit data at specific intervals according to a pre-determined schedule, and consume no power for the rest of the time. They are extremely energy efficient, with a battery life of up to several years.
  • Simplicity and accessibility: Bluetooth is a popular protocol, with successive implementations quickly coming to market and are available to customers. Applications can be easily customized to meet individual customer needs. Bluetooth devices are relatively inexpensive to build.

With these features, PAwR can be used in systems that require bi-directional communication in a one-to-many scenario where high throughput is not required. It is ideal for situations where a central hub manages a large group of devices and needs to read data provided by those devices. 

ESL - an innovative approach for in-store management

Based on PAwR technology, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group has developed an Electronic Shelf Label profile (in Bluetooth world profile is a specification of a wireless interface for communication between devices). ESL standardizes the use of Bluetooth technology for managing shelf labels. With such standardization, any device that supports the ESL profile will be compatible with the system implemented in a given store. For more technical details on this solution, visit the Bluetooth SIG website.

Bluetooth 5.4, however, offers significantly more use cases than electronic shelf labels. If your future product needs to be energy efficient and support bi-direction one to many communication a solution based on Bluetooth 5.4 can be a great choice. At Comarch, we have a team of experienced specialists ready to develop projects using this technology, and we provide full support during the implementation of any project at any level. If you want to find out more, please contact us