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End of an Era: The Decline of Yellow Sticker Discounts in the Age of AI

The familiar sight of yellow sticker discounts in supermarkets, a staple for bargain hunters, may soon become a rarity. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are leading to more sophisticated stock management systems, reducing the need for these manual markdowns.

Supermarkets are increasingly using AI to monitor stock levels and sell-by dates, automatically adjusting prices on digital tags as products near expiration. This shift means less reliance on the traditional yellow sticker method.


Companies like Wasteless are at the forefront of this change, supplying smart price tags to stores across Europe. These tags dynamically adjust prices based on the risk of products expiring unsold. This technology not only aims to reduce food waste—a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions—but also helps retailers manage stock more effectively.


However, this move towards AI-driven pricing raises concerns. Pricing expert Matt Wills cautions that the lack of clear reference prices could confuse consumers, particularly those on tight budgets. The fluctuating prices might make it challenging to identify real bargains. Additionally, there's a risk of price discrimination, with prices potentially being higher in areas with higher demand for certain products.


Despite these concerns, some believe the change is beneficial. Retail expert Sabrina Benjamin argues that digital price tags offer more sophistication and flexibility than yellow stickers, potentially leading to better discounts for consumers and driving more traffic to stores.


British retailers are not far behind in this trend. Wasteless is in talks with major UK retailers, and Asda has already experimented with digital price tags from French firm SES-Imagotag. The German supermarket Kaufland uses tags from UK company Displaydata AI.


The transition to AI-driven pricing systems in supermarkets seems inevitable, with potential benefits for both retailers and consumers. However, it remains to be seen how shoppers will adapt to this new era of bargain hunting without the familiar yellow stickers.

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