A Grocery Store 'GPS' That Cuts Energy Consumption

May 26, 2015
Contributing writer Cara Miale Goman takes us inside a supermarket in France where a kind of LED-based navigator cuts energy consumption and creates personal shopping maps for customers.

Learn more about LED positioning tech in this video by Philips.

Contributing writer Cara Miale Goman takes us inside a supermarket in France where a kind of LED-based navigator cuts energy consumption and creates personal shopping maps for customers.

Ever feel like your trips to the grocery store are more like an episode of Supermarket Sweep? From the disorienting buzz of the fluorescent lighting to the supposedly-on-sale item you just can’t find, it’s all many of us can do to get in and get out without having an anxiety attack.

If you’ve ever wished it were easier to navigate the grocery store (busy professionals and parents of toddlers, I am talking to you), you might try shopping the new Carrefour hypermarket in Lille, France.

Grocery stores in France have been in the headlines recently since legislation was passed cracking down on food waste and forcing them to donate unsold food. This Carrefour is making news for another reason: its efforts to save another precious resource – energy.

The enormous newly refurbished Carrefour has just announced the installation of an energy efficient LED-based connected lighting system designed to reduce electricity consumption while making the aisles a little easier to navigate. It features an indoor positioning system from Philips that works kind of like a grocery store GPS: it uses the store’s new LED light fixtures which are equipped with patented VLC (Visible Light Communication) technology, a cloud-based location database and a mobile app to send customers’ smartphones information as they make their way around the store. At nearly 84,000 square feet of store space (7,800m2), it’s no wonder customers at Lille’s Carrefour need indoor positioning to find their way around.

Supermarket sweepers: imagine what your shopping experience might be like at the Carrefour hypermarket. First, you download the retailer’s app on your smartphone (in the case of Carrefour, you’d use Promo C’ou, available from the iTunes app store) and write out your grocery list (easy on the junk foods, now). Inside the hypermarket, the LED light fixtures throughout the store transmit invisible, one-way streams of information that are detected by the smartphone on your camera, mapping out the store’s sales and their locations as you shop.

Store staff can also use the indoor positioning technology to more efficiently find products, tag issue reports with location information and re-stock the shelves.

The potential benefits of this LED lighting system are many, from improving the customer experience to driving sales; but perhaps at the top of the list for retailers is a reduction in electricity consumption. The more than 8,000 feet (2.5 km) of LED lighting installed at the Carrefour hypermarket, replacing its previous fluorescent lighting with 800 linear LED fixtures, reduces the hypermarket’s total lighting-based electricity consumption by a significant 50 percent.

Considering that the indoor positioning technology is easy to scale, requiring no additional hardware investment apart from the fixtures themselves, LED-based connected lighting like that implemented by Philips and Carrefour could work well for other big retail chains (IKEA, are you listening?). These innovative systems can lower stores’ electrical energy consumption – and at the same time, perhaps, our blood pressure.

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About the Author

Kevin Normandeau | Publisher

Kevin is a veteran of the publishing industry having worked for brands like PC World, AOL, Network World, Data Center Knowledge and other business to business sites. He focuses on industry trends in the energy efficiency industry.