The Official ByteLight blog.
  • April 21, 2014 4:16 pm

    Why Walmart’s Deal with GE to Rollout LEDs is Bigger Than Energy Savings: The Internet of Things


    Walmart made big news earlier this month when it announced it was purchasing LED ceiling lighting fixtures from GE for new stores worldwide. It wasn’t a huge shocker, given the company announced in 2012 it would eventually be 100% LED within its 5,300+ stores. However its deal with GE and its aggressive timetable to replace main sales floor lighting was surprising, and is a big feather in the cap of wall-to-wall LED in retail.

    Fluorescent lamps (especially the T8 formats) found in big box retail stores like Walmart, Target, etc., are now being replaced by LED. The move to LED ceiling lighting in the U.S. is expected to produce an energy savings of 340,000 KW hours per store – equating to more than $34,000 in savings per year in each store. The entire trend of moving to LED in retail is nearly two-years ahead of schedule based on previous forecasts.

    Furthermore, energy savings may not be the only reason and potential outcome for big box retailers like Walmart. As some have noted, LEDs and smart lighting in retail could really be a Trojan Horse for the Internet of Things. As these stores are retrofitted with LED lights, they’re setting up a viable new data channel. In fact, the entire lighting industry’s value capture is moving away from components and towards data because of it - like the computer industry before it.

    One use is surely indoor location and location-based marketing. Instead of using Bluetooth Low Energy beacons or Wi-fi communication, lighting-based indoor location solutions enable retailers and venue owners to send location-based, mobile marketing offers via modulate LED lights. This instantly turns a sunk cost (lighting) for venue owners into a revenue-driving platform and is one reason why ABI research thinks it could be the key to unlocking the $5 Billion industry.

    In fact, these types of lighting-based indoor location platforms could create an entirely new market of LED / IoT applications that will grow into a $2.7 billion market itself by 2020. A next generation of applications will likely offer the ability to do much more than just dimming or setting lighting fixture schedules with your iPhone. Retailers and venue owners will be able to transform LED lights into a networked group of real-time sensors, tracking and assisting with anything that may be happening on store floors. All the while, doing so without adding additional hardware or retail beacons, and without bogging down Wi-Fi networks.

    For more information on how you can use LED lighting to illuminate indoor location on your retail store floors, contact ByteLight today.