LED Smart Lighting Makes Grocery Shopping Easy
Navigating grocery stores and hunting for sales just became a whole lot easier for French shoppers. A Carrefour supermarket in Lille, France has recently implemented a new LED smart lighting system that uses visible light communication (VLC) to send promotions and location data to users’ smartphones. VLC uses light waves instead of radio waves to broadcast digital content such as video, sound, image, and text as well as GPS coordinates through the air via a light source. It has no adverse affects on human health and relays information at speeds up to 10 times faster than Wi-Fi.
After downloading a special app, customers at Carrefour can direct their phones up towards the LED lights, which are fit with distinct location codes, to view a virtual layout of the store. The app then pinpoints the customer’s position, the direction they are facing, and the location of specific aisles and sales.
"Thanks to this new application, which uses Philips technology, we are now able to provide our customers at the EuraLille Carrefour with a new service, enabling them to quickly search and locate their preferred promotions or detect all the promotions around them when in-store. A real time-saver for an urban customer base," says Céline Martin, Director of Commercial Models and Innovation for Carrefour supermarkets in France.
Smartphone promotions are becoming an increasingly popular way for stores to grow sales. Smartphone adoption is predicted to reach an all-time high of 79% in Western Europe and North America by 2017. At the same time, the influence of mobile devices on shoppers’ in-store purchasing decisions is also increasing, with 68% of shoppers currently using their phones to browse, shop, or find product information when out shopping. Moreover, 56% of US supermarkets are expected to launch couponing technology that delivers tailored information to shoppers’ phones at the point of sale within the next year.
Although many methods of connecting phones with store-wide sales have been developed, the use of smart lighting systems is so far the most accurate and efficient, with Philips’ system leading the way. The Philips smart lighting system functions similarly to a GPS-based map and has been found to compare favorably to Wi-Fi location technology. While Wi-Fi can accurately position people within a 3 to 5 meter radius, Philips’ system is able to position them accurately within a 1 meter radius. When navigating a small indoor area like a grocery store, this makes a world of difference.
Meanwhile, other retailers are choosing to invest in beacons—Bluetooth transmitters that allow compatible apps to calculate how far a user is from the beacon, but not their exact location. While this option is cheaper and easier than replacing an entire store’s lighting system, it isn’t as accurate and doesn’t provide the incredible energy-savings of LEDs. (The Philips system is projected to reduce Lille’s Carrefour total energy use by more than 50%!)
According to an article in Lux Review, a small number of Target stores in the US may also be adopting smart lighting technology. However, Target has not said conclusively that they are using VLC, and no lighting manufacturer has yet been identified. In the meantime, shoppers can enjoy a unique trip to the grocery store in France.
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