UK display technology firm gets tyre store deal
Berkshire-based ZBD has won a contract to roll out its shelf-edge displays in ‘Quick’ Goodyear tyre stores in Germany.
“Working alongside installation partner Aha Trade Marketing Concepts, ZBD will provide its displays to Quick stores over the next few months,” said ZBD.
The firm started life in 2000 as a technology spin-out of UK research lab Qinetiq, launched to exploit zenithal bistable displays, hence the company name.
Qinetiq not only invented ZBD LCDs but, in its former guise as a high-achieving MoD research lab, invented LCD technology in the first place, as well as radar.
Much like E Ink displays, ZBDs require no energy to hold an image, only to change it.
Unlike E Ink displays, ZBDs can be made on a standard high-volume LCD manufacturing line with little modification.
The image quality is high-contrast and easily read, like an LCD digital watch, but does not achieve the ink-in-paper look of E Ink in an eReader.
Finding no takers for the display technology on its own, ZBD re-invented itself as an electronic shelf-edge labelling firm by combining its displays with a low-power radio receiver in units (‘epops’) that offer five years of maintenance-free operation from an internal battery.
Communications to every epop in a supermarket comes from a single USB or Ethernet-powered transmitter the size of a laptop battery.
It offering includes software that links its wireless shelf-edge system into conventional retail store management programmes. Together, transmitter and software are branded ‘Bounce’.
ZBD’s commercial argument is that paper labels take a lot of effort to print and maintain, and that the initial cost of its system can be recouped in a little as one year.
Around 100 stores have the system installed, split between several large companies, including T-Mobile in Austria and now Quick in Germany.
In the Quick case “paper labels used in the past were labour-intensive and time-consuming to produce and replace, and also obscured the tyres from view,” claimed ZBD. “The fully-graphic displays are attached directly to products in the store and can be updated regularly in line with stock availability and customer offers. If a store has too much stock of a particular product, or notices that a local competitor is offering lower prices, it can quickly update the labels with new pricing.”
“One of the main reasons for selecting ZBD’s displays was that the solution is simple to install. There was no need to set up a vast network of transmitters or receivers,” said Quick. “On top of that, the visual impact of the displays is very impressive.”
In June, ZBD appointed Howard Ford as its new chairman and Jon Varney as its new CFO.
Supported by venture capital groups including DFJ Esprit, TTP Ventures and Dow Chemical; the firm claims to be growing at 200% CAGR, with revenues of £12.6m in its most recent financial year.