Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Diary of a Digitally Disrupted Consumer: Let there be (the Right) Light

September 27, 2016

HAK51992_r-SAutumn weather in the UK and Ireland is anyone’s guess. September has seen biblical-scale flash floods in some areas while a mini-heatwave elsewhere had people rummaging in their bathroom cabinets for the remnants of the sunscreen. It’s tricky to know what to wear and what to eat, and trickier still to know what to sell for the beleaguered retailers whose fortunes are so dependent on the weather.

Bitter experience tells us, however, that Indian summers are short-lived in these parts and we can be fairly certain that wind and rain are on the way. The high street in turn will breathe a collective sigh of relief and hustle umbrellas and recipe books for warming stews into prime position in anticipation of chilly shoppers. But what can retailers do to ensure shoppers turn out in force and avoid their store display masterpieces do not go unadmired?

Seeing the light

According to research published in the Guardian, shoppers in the UK are spending less on products in all categories in favour of experiences such as holidays, and making more of their purchases online. So what does tempt us away from the sofa and tablet and into an actual store?

These days, when we rarely HAVE to go shopping in person, it’s the store experience that draws us in (or sees us fleeing), and a large part of that is the ambience created by lighting. And the ‘right’ lighting isn’t the same for all types of shopping (who wants to do the food shop in near darkness, or try on swimwear in technicolour?). Or for every shopper.

It’s unsurprising therefore UK retailers are furiously researching different formats to try to find out the best mix. M&S and Sainsbury’s are among those trialling LED in-store, based on research commissioned by Phillips, reported by lighting bible Lux Review. The general indicators were that dynamic lighting contributed to an increase in basket spend of almost 2%, with consumers lingering in areas with warmer lighting settings, although conclusive correlation is proving somewhat elusive.

Many research makes light work

So what’s stopping retailers from making better use of lighting to improve the in-store experience? Although it may seem simple, it’s pretty hard to do successfully across a store network. There are variances in sizes, locations and formats of stores and differences in local shopper profiles which make a one-size (or one lighting) fits all approach strategy unlikely to be effective.

Are we destined therefore to go from one extreme (airport bright) to the other (dimly lit trendy teenage clothing store)? Not necessarily, and certainly not if retailers are serious about continuing with a physical presence in the channel mix.

Lighting the way

Enter – or perhaps ascend – the Cisco® Digital Ceiling! Without getting too deep into the technology, this nifty embodiment of the Internet of Things (IoT) wraps up all of a building’s services, like lighting, heating/air-con and CCTV, with detailed analytics, delivered over a single IP network.

So how does this help retailers make more of their in-store lighting?

  • It can easily be shifted to meet changing needs and to set certain moods in individual stores. For example, the intensity of the lights can be increased to draw attention to a specific item (maybe a special offer?), or colour can be used to highlight a featured item in a store (seasonal ranges?)
  • Lighting or light beacons can be used as a guide by having colour indicators embedded into the digital ceiling, or asking shoppers or employees log in via a tablet or smartphone and be directed by the lights to a specific area
  • Energy costs can be managed much more effectively and bills cut by significant percentages

The future’s bright – or not so bright – depending on what works best for shoppers (and not forgetting employees). It’s not about clever technology (although we are very proud of it), it’s about harnessing digital technology to drive disruptions that benefit customers and ultimately secure future revenues.

Next steps:

  • Learn more about the Cisco® Digital Ceiling
  • Read the previous blog in our Digitally Disrupted Consumer series ‘Back to School’
  • Sign up to the Cisco UK & Ireland blog to make sure you don’t miss the next in the series
  • Visit our Retail industry page to read more about Cisco solutions for retailers
Leave a comment