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Walmart to replace paper shelf labels with digital price screens

REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE / 2017
                                A worker sets up a display of dish washing liquid in preparation for the opening of a Walmart Super Center in Compton, Calif.
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REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE / 2017

A worker sets up a display of dish washing liquid in preparation for the opening of a Walmart Super Center in Compton, Calif.

BENTONVILLE, Arkansas >> Paper shelf price labels are going away at thousands of Walmart stores.

The company on Thursday announced an expanded roll-out of digital shelf labels that will allow it to update prices on over 120,000 items within minutes.

Weekly updates to paper shelf labels typically took a store worker about two days. With digital labels, prices can be updated within two minutes after a few clicks through its mobile app for workers called Me@Walmart, the company said.

The new labels are small square screens that look very much like the paper labels they will replace. They will also enable workers to pick products for online order fulfillment faster, the company said in a statement.

The digital shelf tags will appear on shelves at 2,300 stores by 2026, said Greg Cathey, senior vice president of transformation and innovation at Walmart, which operates 4,700 U.S. stores.

The way companies price products have become a hot button issue recently after burger chain Wendy’s was scorched on social media after its CEO suggested it may start testing “dynamic pricing” or surge pricing based on demand, especially during peak hours of the day.

Cathey said Walmart had no plans to do that.

“It is absolutely not going to be one hour it is this price and the next hour it is not,” he said on the sidelines of Walmart’s annual shareholder meet in Bentonville, Arkansas, on Thursday.

Merchants typically provided pricing updates to Walmart on a weekly basis, but with digital price tags, they can pass on price changes to Walmart daily, Walmart spokesperson Cristina Rodrigues said.

Rodrigues said these prices are updated overnight, left the same during the day and revisited again after store hours or before the store opens the next day.

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