For retail businesses, lighting is crucial to provide the right shopping environment for customers. Julia Raish, writes on the Chain Store Age website that advancements in LED lighting controls and connectivity are convincing businesses to make the switch to the more energy-efficient lighting.
LEDs: Benefits Extend Beyond Worth Energy Savings
Retail facilities are making the shift to LEDs, a more efficient, brighter and longer lasting lighting option saves energy and reduces operating costs. Its rapid return on interest makes LED retrofitting a smart, simple fix.
But what if LED lighting installations could also increase and guide purchasing decisions? What if thoughtful placement and controlled lighting could make customers feel more comfortable and safe, and make employees more productive?
LED lighting technology has recently advanced, creating possibilities for uses beyond those of traditional bulbs. These trends illuminate new uses for lighting that affect the bottom line, customers, and employees. The investment is worth the switch.
As the Internet of Things and automated controls are installed to create smart buildings, advancements in LED lighting controls and connectivity are making strides.
Many retailers today implement lighting standards which allow for control and automation on smart timers and schedules, or turned on and off remotely to save energy when a space is unoccupied. Common light sensor installations include occupancy and vacancy sensors, as well as natural light-triggered time clocks and dimming controls.
Newer, more advanced lighting sensors can be controlled wirelessly through smart phones and tablets, allowing dimming, timing, and even customizable lighting color from anywhere in the world at the click of a button.
Studies have shown that controlled lighting leads to energy efficiency and human efficiency. Retail and commercial spaces are often brighter than necessary, which wastes energy and negatively affects customer comfort and employee productivity.
Light that is installed and managed for the task at hand – whether trying on clothing (brighter, frontal lighting), showcasing a product (varied, colorful highlighting), or operating a computer or register (dimmed overhead lighting), can be optimized.
And the products prove their worth – some systems can report the energy usage and savings directly to smart building systems.
Kimco Realty: Focus on outdoors
Lighting is just an impactful outside a retail store as it is inside. Kimco Realty, a leading U.S. retail REIT implemented its “Illuni-Nation” program, a sustainability initiative that committed $9 million to upgrade exterior lighting, in 100 of its properties by end of 2015.
By adding new energy efficient LED lights to its parking lots, Kimco improved aesthetics, and lowered expenses and energy use. Since the program began, Kimco has reported reduced parking lot electricity expenses by up to 40%.
Most importantly to Kimco, the lighting upgrade has positively affected customer safety, which has translated to profits. Added night illumination has improved foot traffic to retail stores and increased sales through the added sense of security and a more noticeable property from the street.
And for retailers in locations that are cognizant of light pollution, new LED technology allows for controlled light direction, and some are adding “hats” to reduce the amount of light transmitted upward after dark.
Outdoor lighting can also transform the customer experience. When walking through a mall or retail space, color is an important tool to grab customer attention. More retailers are putting the spotlight on their products by playing with color lighting to align with their brand, attract attention and personalize the shopping experience.
Even more advanced LED systems are entering the market. For example, Kimco is exploring a lighting system that has camera and motion sensor integration, which is monitored by property managers through smart devices.
The system supports crime deterrence as well – if lights are programmed to dim in the late hours of night and movement is detected during this time, the lighting can brighten to 100% and can even audibly alert that the trespasser is being recorded.
LED lighting technology and connectivity will continue to provide new opportunities to support a better experience for all building occupants and facility managers. The energy savings by retrofitting to LEDs is reason enough, but the influence that smart, controlled lighting plays in the satisfaction of the costumer and employees is also proving its worth.