Smart shelf tags show shoppers what they are buying

  • November 7, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

North American grocery wholesaler United Natural Foods is offering retailers smart shelf tags from Florida-based Cornerstone for Natural to give in-store shoppers product information and digital content.

The shelf tags contain ELi QR codes, a more secure version of a QR code that can be scanned to provide shoppers with additional product information and digital content on their mobile phones without requiring an app. The aim is to educate consumers while they’re shopping.

As consumer demand for product information and insights grows, United Natural Foods is working to increase access to additional information and provide product transparency on the shelf. Because most in-store shoppers consult their mobile phones about products, these tags are designed to engage shoppers with targeted content direct from suppliers while they’re physically shopping in the grocery aisle.

In addition, the tags can increase product transparency, create a touchpoint between suppliers and shoppers, and help grocery retailers build consumer loyalty and trust.

While the codes look like familiar QR codes, they are more secure. They not only provide a scannable code, they also incorporate the back-end content to which users are directed. The content is sourced from the supplier, automatically populates for each code, and may include promotional offers, nutrition and allergen information, testimonials, traceability information, brand stories, videos, and images.

Retailers never have to source, manage or update content and the codes are automatically printed on the tags. Cornerstone has built over 120,000 ELi QR codes, thousands from prominent consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands and new and emerging brands alike.

Consumers have shown they value information when selecting a brand and will remain more loyal to brands that provide greater transparency. Certain product categories are a natural fit for the tags, especially those from which consumers seek more information before deciding on a purchase: vitamins and supplements, wines and spirits, gourmet cheese, natural and organic products, functional foods, local items, and those from new and emerging CPG suppliers.

“United Natural Foods is excited to enable better transparency and communication between our suppliers, retailers and shoppers,” said John Raiche, executive vice president at United Natural Foods. “Consumers have shown that they care about the values and beliefs of the brands they purchase and, with smart shelf tags, suppliers can communicate directly with shoppers about their products and tell the stories behind their brands.”

Offering innovations that leverage technology and help optimise grocery retail businesses is a core part of United Natural Foods’ strategy. Through its professional services portfolio, it offers various tools that help retailers drive store traffic, save time and money, reinvest in their businesses, and enhance shoppers’ overall experience.

“Retail is changing, and we need to change with it,” said David Williams, Cornerstone’s executive vice president. “Retailers and brands need to work together to engage and educate their shoppers and our smart shelf tags provide this unique opportunity, helping with decision-making at a key point of purchase in the store.”

With more than 150 customisable offerings, the professional services help grocery retailers reduce operating costs, drive traffic, increase basket size and enhance the customer experience. Services include pricing support, in-store shelf management, planograms, PoS and cashier-less checkout technology, and store remodels, helping retailers keep pace with the changing landscape of grocery and stay focused.

United Natural Foods is a grocery wholesaler delivering fresh, branded and owned brand products to more than 30,000 locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, ecommerce providers and food service customers. it also provides value-added services and segmented marketing expertise, including proprietary technology, data, market insights and shelf management.

Cornerstone for Natural is a division of Cornerstone Consulting, a business management and enterprise resource management software provider.