News, Retail

Carrefour guides shoppers to in-store discounts via the ceiling lights

Will she or won't she? She's clutching one sack of Carrefour's Terre d'Italia treats, and she could get a second for a total price of merely €1.90. She might have missed the offer entirely, if not for the LED-based data waves that reached her smartphone.

France’s Carrefour, one of the world’s three largest retailers, has found a new way to steer shoppers straight to discounts and products in its stores: via lights in the shop ceiling.

The €84 billion ($93.4 billion) retailer is transmitting digital information from LED lamps to customers’ smartphones, using a technology called ‘visible light communication’, (VLC) provided by Holland’s Philips. The system is similar to one pioneered by US retailer Target, although Target is not believed to be using Philips gear.

Both Carrefour and Target are on the vanguard of a retail movement to double up on LEDs as not only a source of energy efficient and long-lasting light, but as an information technology tool that delivers valuable and personalised information to shoppers on store premises.

Because LEDs are semiconductors (they are ‘light-emitting diodes’), they are programmable. A VLC system encodes lightwaves with data about products and promotions, and transmits to the camera on a shoppers’ smartphone. An app then displays the information and helps guide the consumer to the product’s location in the sprawling store.

Carrefour has installed the system in a recently refurbished 7,800-square metre ‘hypermarket’ in Lille, France, using 800 LED lights from Philips.

‘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,’ said Céline Martin, director of commercial models and innovation for Carrefour hypermarkets in France. ‘The main benefits for our customers for this new application is to compare a shopping list with promotions, and when they arrive in the store they can localise all the products they choose.’

‘For Carrefour, this is an opportunity to offer location-based services that will enhance the shopping experience, making it more interactive and personalised,’ added Marlene Tisse, retail lighting manager for Philips Lighting France.

Carrefour stood third among the world’s largest retailers behind only Walmart and Costco in Deloitte’s most recent ranking of global retailers.

Photo is from Philips

Watch Carrefour step boldy and brightly into the digital future of brick-and-mortar retailing: