Kroger tests out 'smart shelf' technology

Kroger (NYSE:KR) is testing out "smart shelf" technology at a store in Cold Spring, Ohio. And Christopher Hjelm, Kroger's CIO, said the use of technology in the grocery store chain will expand, it's just a matter of when.

Currently the shelves at the test store are programmed to display video images of price tags that can be easily altered by computer, reported

The test began on just a few shelves and is expanding to more shelves. In total, the installation of 2,200 Edge shelves will span the center of the supermarket, including most aisles with dry goods.

While future technology plans are not clear, applications could include on-demand nutritional information when shoppers touch the shelf below a product or information appearing directly on consumers' smart phones.

"It has the potential to reinvent brick-and-mortar retailing," Brett Bonner, VP of Kroger's research and development, told "It brings the info-richness of the Internet to the sight, sounds, smells and touching of in-store shopping."

Digital tags help free up employee time, as it takes more than two weeks to completely re-price, by hand, a typical Kroger store's tens of thousands of items.

Numbers on digital displays are larger than regular price tags and don't have UPC bar codes. Each shelf's front has a plastic screen, and inside, a digital device projects the pricing or product info.

Kroger has already tested some video and no-motion ads that have boosted sales results. The supermarket will continue to test audio and response to other technology.

Kroger has been posting positive sales results, reporting 45 consecutive quarters of growth.

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