GE lets retailers send offers to shoppers via LED lighting

ILLUMINATING: LED transmits a unique light pattern that is picked up by a smartphone

GE Lighting and US startup Bytelight have unveiled a marketing platform that lets merchants use LED lighting installed in and around their stores to send offers, directions to particular products and information services to shoppers, based on their precise location within a retail store.

The new service combines GE’s Luminaire IS LED lighting technology with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), inertial device sensors and Visual Light Communication (VLC), a data communications medium that uses visible light between 400 and 800 THz to enable retailers to communicate with shoppers.

Customers need to have downloaded an app to an iOS or Android smartphone equipped with camera or Bluetooth Smart to use the service. The Bytelight-enabled LED fixtures transmit a unique light pattern that can then be picked up by a shopper’s smartphone and used by the app to notify the Bytelight platform of their location “with sub-meter accuracy and sub-second latency”.

By integrating Bytelight with their digital marketing system, retailers can then use this location data, GE suggests, to:

  • Welcome repeat customers with personalised shopping lists as they approach the store, then provide an easy-to-follow map to optimise their shopping time;
  • Offer coupons and promotions based on a shopper’s position and direction in the aisle and their shopping history;
  • Present customer reviews, play product information videos and connect on demand with virtual store associates to make brand choice easier.

“ByteLight’s indoor location technology embedded inside GE LED lighting fixtures will deliver high-value applications to retailers, providing the ability to understand the precise location of shoppers using an opt-in application powered by ByteLight on their smartphones and tablets,” GE says.

“The comprehensive approach enables retailers to reach a broad number of shoppers across the largest area — from the parking lot to anywhere in the store there is LED light. As a result, retailers can achieve continuous return on investment (ROI) on their conversion to GE LED lighting while providing a strategic platform for the connected retail store of the future.”

“The use of GE’s LED lighting fixtures for location-based services brilliantly demonstrates how LEDs can go beyond the traditional ROI of energy and maintenance savings to fundamentally change the way people shop by combining data with location,” says GE Lighting’s Jerry Duffy.

“ByteLight’s technology ensures a cost-effective approach for indoor location by not requiring additional hardware infrastructure beyond the lights themselves.”

“The value proposition for LED lighting is becoming less about illumination and more about innovative applications and services that digital light enables,” adds Dan Ryan, ByteLight’s CEO.

“We are excited to work with GE to help reinvent LED lighting into a platform for indoor-location services that will revolutionize the in-store shopping experience and make LEDs play a strategic role in the connected retail experience.”

Lighting rival Philips has also developed a system that uses VLC to communicate location-based information to shoppers via a smartphone app. The app lets customers select a recipe or an individual item to receive directions to the aisle in which the product is located.

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