Lost in the Big Box Store? This App Uses LED Fixtures To Find You . . . And Upsell You

illustration of Philips Connected retail lighting system

In a recent post, I discussed the networking potential of solid-state LED lighting with digital information and communication technologies. A case in point is Philips Lighting’s current trial in select European supermarkets of a GPS app, networked with LED in-store lights, to help shoppers navigate the isles.

Here’s how it works. Each LED light fixture in the store is a node in the network. When a customer enters the store and opens the app on a smart phone, a store grid appears identifying their current location. A shopper new to the store and unfamiliar with the layout is able to enter items on their shopping list into the app and it guides them to the proper isle location for each item. A shopper who frequently visits the store can still speed up their shopping time, particularly if they are looking for unusual items.

There is even a capability to enter a recipe and have the app find the shelf location for each ingredient.

There is cool factor for sure, but is there shopper demand for this kind of app? You might even wonder if retailers would view the app as too efficient for the shopper? It’s no secret among grocers in particular, that the best customers are ones who show up with no shopping list and wander each isle filling their basket with impulse items.

Philips believes the retailer will be sold on the upsell functionality. Coupons or discounts can be delivered in a powerful new way. If a shopper is in the bread section, for example, the light fixture overhead prompts the app to offer a discount for 10% off any jar of peanut butter located close by in the same isle.

The app can also make shopping suggestions for deserts, energy bars or other impulse items as the shopper moves through the store. Who knows, maybe it can find the lost kid in the candy isle, too?

Whether all this is really necessary or just another way for marketers to get in the face of shoppers is an open question.

For Philips it is clearly another way to sell LED retrofits to big box retail. According to a Philips spokesperson quoted in the Daily Mail newspaper in London, “The beauty of the system is that retailers do not have to invest in additional infrastructure to house, power and support location beacons for indoor positioning. The LED light fixtures themselves can communicate this information by virtue of their presence everywhere in the store.”

LED lighting, it turns out, may be more than a better way to illuminate a space, it is a platform to deliver information, or gather it, depending on your perspective.

Read more about the Philips Connected Retail Lighting System.

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.