LED Lighting in Retail (Part 1): Illuminating the In-Store Experience with IPS

March 2, 2017 Neil Egan

In spite of recent store closings, predictions of the demise of brick-and-mortar retail are at odds with consumer reality. While it’s true that the digital shopping experience has gained a firm foothold, industry studies continue to find that the large majority of customers, as much as 85 percent, still enjoy the experience of shopping in a physical retail store.

That is, until they don’t… particularly when they run into the all-too-common “can’t find it” and “can’t find help” shopping experiences.

Retailers need better ways to combat these in-store ills, and indoor positioning systems (IPS) have emerged as powerful tools to engage and assist in-store customers, at the exact point of purchase decision – the aisle and shelf.

IPS is similar to the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology we use in our cars. IPS technologies use fixed location transmitters or beacons, a mobile device, digital indoor maps, and a mobile loyalty app, to provide shoppers with location and navigation within the store.

Here just a few of the ways IPS can enhance the shopper experience:

  • Find it fast: IPS, paired with mobile retail loyalty apps, allows shoppers to use a “blue-dot” mapping feature to get step-by-step guidance to the exact locations of items on their lists.
  • Let’s make a deal: when a shopper is mulling over an item, IPS can identify that item by aisle and shelf location with incredible precision, and the retailer can deliver a mobile coupon or other promotional offer to the shopper’s mobile device. 
  • What you want, where and when you want it:  indoor positioning helps optimize in-store, online and mobile channels, providing shoppers with tools to find, buy and receive the items they want. If an item is out of stock in-store, the app can connect the shopper to the retailer’s online store to buy and have it delivered directly to their home or to the store – with just a few taps of the mobile device screen.
  • Avoid getting lost in a new store - consumers shop at familiar stores because visiting an unknown store can be inefficient and time consuming.  Indoor positioning guides shoppers through an unfamiliar environment so they can enjoy a new shopping experience with all of the ease and amenity of their “home store.”

LED-based IPS can pay for itself

There are several technologies that enable IPS, but few have the ability to provide the continuous return on investment offered by LED lighting-based IPS, in which transmitters, or beacons, are integrated into the lighting system. Our LED lighting-based IPS solution uses two amazing technologies: Visible Light Communication (VLC) and Bluetooth® low energy (BLE) technology. VLC sends digital signals to the mobile device camera when the device is in active use and BLE communicates with the device when it’s in a pocket or purse. 

Other components of the system include a digital map of the store area, a smart phone or tablet outfitted with a camera and/or Bluetooth technology, an opt-in loyalty app and back-end data management and analysis technology.

The ROI comes from the significant energy savings in energy (up to 80 percent) and reduced maintenance costs LED lighting delivers.  This alone makes LED lighting-based IPS worth the investment, and there are other reasons:

  • No extra labor, hardware or maintenance – not even batteries – is needed to support IPS technology, so ongoing costs are minimized.
  • IPS is enabled in energy-saving LED luminaires that can qualify for government tax incentives, supporting an attractive payback for retailers.
  • Data from IPS technology can be of great market value to retail brands that understand the importance of creating loyalty through old-fashioned, face-to-face interactions as well as through newer marketing channels.
  • Brands can communicate with customers at the point of purchase and during their decision-making.

At a time when their budgets are shrinking and their very existence is the subject of frequent deliberation, traditional retailers need a break. Indoor-positioning systems are a tool that can give brick-and-mortar stores market parity with their online-based competition.

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