ROUNDY'S TO EXPAND USE OF ELECTRONIC SHELF LABELS

PEWAUKEE, Wis. -- Roundy's is the latest chain to expand its electronic shelf labeling program to additional stores.The retailer, based here, will install the electronic pricing tags in six of its Pick 'n Save stores in the Milwaukee area. It may also buy other systems for an undisclosed number of stores to be built within the next two years.The electronic shelf tags should save Roundy's about a quarter

PEWAUKEE, Wis. -- Roundy's is the latest chain to expand its electronic shelf labeling program to additional stores.

The retailer, based here, will install the electronic pricing tags in six of its Pick 'n Save stores in the Milwaukee area. It may also buy other systems for an undisclosed number of stores to be built within the next two years.

The electronic shelf tags should save Roundy's about a quarter of 1% in annual labor costs and will pay for themselves within a six- to nine-month period, said Ralph Beketic, president of Roundy's Milwaukee division.

The shelf tags, manufactured by Telepanel Systems, Toronto, had been in two Pick 'n Save stores for four years as part of a pilot program.

The label modules are fed pricing changes that also are picked up by point-of-sale scanners. They ensure pricing accuracy between shelves and checkout and reduce labor costs because they eliminate manual repricing.

Telepanel's wireless systems normally cost between $80,000 and $110,000 to install. Typically between 8,000 and 12,000 labels are used.

"The systems not only are beneficial for having the correct prices on the shelf, but there is definitely a reduction in labor," said Beketic. "Using this system will mean a substantial savings in labor costs. We also will have more accurate inventories."

A week before the Roundy's deal was cemented, Telepanel announced it would roll out shelf tags to as many as 60 stores owned by Toronto-based Loblaw Supermarkets.

Competitor ERS International, based in Wilton, Conn., has sold multiple systems to Vons Cos., Arcadia, Calif., and H-E-B in San Antonio. Many other chains are testing either Telepanel's or ERS's systems, usually in one or two stores.

"There's lots of activity going on," said John Heaven, Telepanel's vice president of finance.