Improvements in LED retail lighting designs encourage sales

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LEDs have proved to be energy efficient, reliable and most importantly, durable. The retail industry is poised for expansion across India, and is relying on LEDs to enhance the user experience. Therefore, manufacturers are coming up with a variety of technologically advanced LEDs, specially designed for the retail sector.

By Baishakhi Dutta

LEDs play a significant role in the retail segment. In order to attract customers, it is important that retailers keep their store well illuminated to highlight the products on sale. In various commercial areas, lighting accounts for as much as 40 to 50 per cent of the total energy consumed. Therefore, more and more retailers are gradually opting for LED lighting, which is relatively easy to set up and less expensive when it comes to recurring energy costs.

Developments in the retail lighting sector

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Retail lighting calls for a balance between aesthetics and the need to showcase the product. Lighting enhances retail spaces in ways that help create an engaging mood or experience for shoppers, and offers vast opportunities for stores and brands that want to connect with their customers in unique and memorable ways. This means lighting has emerged as a competitive weapon for retailers who want to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Besides, it helps them reduce operational costs.

Players like Corvi and Opple are coming up with a range of lights, specifically meant for retail. “We intend to provide a product that will be modular in nature with a high CRI to ensure that the true personality of the retail product is revealed and enhanced,” says Vimal Soni, managing director, Corvi LED Light.

“Lighting plays a critical role in the retail sector, enabling stores to attract, engage and convert customers through innovative in-store lighting. It can help them create stories around their products, and transform stores into creative destinations offering an engaging experience to customers,” says Rambo Zhang, India head, Opple Lighting.

“With tailored lighting systems catering to different applications in a store, the industry is transforming the retail landscape in the country. We offer a wide range of products that can help stores create a great visual impact, guide customers and make them feel more engaged with the store,” adds Zhang.

The latest market trends in LED retail lighting

Today there is a strong preference for products that are modular, can be automated and offer a higher efficiency rate, thus ensuring durability. Indian industry players believe that intelligent lighting solutions that perform intuitively are the future of LED lighting.

  • Healthy lighting: A major trend these days is to keep the environment healthy and bright by using the best resources. People focus more on such lights for themselves and their families. Manufacturers such as Opple are amongst those that promote ‘healthy lighting’ in all their major products.
  • No wires: Lights with no wires are the latest trend these days. These LED lights are available in a wide range. Users can now control these smart lights via a tablet or a smartphone. Such lights are easy to install and replace, and are comparatively long lasting.
  • Smart connectivity: Everything, from applications to gadgets, is well connected via the Internet in today’s world. The Internet of Things refers to the capability of controlling devices using your computer or smartphone, via the Internet. For example, someone sitting in a particular room and wishing to turn off the lights in another room can now do so using a smartphone, if the LED lights installed are IoT enabled.
  • Inbuilt sources: LED light sources do not need to be replaced often. Manufacturers are now developing light sources that are inbuilt and do not require any lamps or moulds to cover them. Such light sources are easily available, and come in various sizes and styles.

Suggestions for large institutional buyers

“Institutional buyers should calculate the lifetime value of the product using important parameters such as lumens per watt, the warranty policy, etc. It is equally important to understand unified glare ratings in a large commercial format to ensure that the lighting experience is glare-free for the room’s occupants,” says Soni.

“The LED market is huge. Geometric lighting fixtures are amongst the hottest lighting trends now. These lights invoke a minimalist aesthetic, and they’re not just for modern and contemporary interiors. The key to their versatility is utter simplicity. A geometric fixture is a great option if you’re looking to give your space a modern or mid-century vibe,” informs Zhang.

A checklist for buying LED retail products

  • Quality: Indian consumers want good products at a low price. LED lights available in the market today have a renewed focus on quality. Buyers must look for such products.
  • New patterns and styles: New technologies are being introduced in the market very frequently. While looking for lights, customers must choose the smartest and the latest designs in accordance with their home or office decor.
  • Wireless control: Lights with no wires are a ‘hot’ trend. So look for smart lights that can be controlled via a tablet or a smartphone.

Worldwide LED retail lighting scenario

Globally, LEDs are gaining traction because of improved costs, designs and performance. The LED automotive lighting market is growing very rapidly, and being used in a wide range of popular vehicles. Automotive lighting manufacturers are developing innovative LED lighting technologies, like adaptive lighting systems and light-sensing daylight running lights.

“Intelligence and human-centric lighting are the leading trends,” says Soni. Zhang opines that, “The rising use of LEDs in different sectors such as automobiles and mobile phone backlighting applications has given the necessary boost to the LED market. In the prevailing business scenario, environmental awareness is growing amongst people. Increased focus on green construction is one of the major factors for the growth of the LED market in various regions.”

“The growing display market and the falling costs of LED lamps are the other factors contributing to the growth of the LED market. However, the high investments needed to replace conventional lighting could hinder the pace of growth,” adds Zhang.

What the future holds

“Both Indian and international retail players are growing in India. From Zara to Big Bazaar, we have seen tremendous penetration in the mini metro and non-metro areas. Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities have also seen a change in consumption patterns, with the modern retail format gaining a strong foothold. The retail sector offers vast prospects for the lighting sector,” says Soni.

Zhang is of the opinion that although the Indian LED lighting sector is at a nascent stage, it offers innumerable opportunities for growth over the next few decades. “As India represents one of the biggest lighting markets, it offers a lucrative option for LED manufacturers to set up their facilities in the region,” he says. However, offering quality products at a competitive price is something that many brands are still struggling with.

“Increase in infrastructural investments, the rapid growth of street lighting systems, the decline in the average prices of LEDs, and various government and private smart building projects are expected to drive the demand for LED lights in India,” concludes Zhang.

Expert advice

Zhang shares a list of important points that large institutional buyers should definitely keep in mind before making a big investment in retail lighting.

  • Controls: The controls for LEDs enable lights to be dimmed, and can send and receive data. Improvements in user interfaces, and the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, are leading to greater use of these controls. With the arrival of wireless controls and powerline communication, it’s no longer a difficult task to add these controls to an existing building.
  • Adapting to new working patterns: Trends keep changing. We don’t work in the same way we used to. Today many tasks are performed on the go or from remote locations. The mobile working and hot-desking trends are growing, and people may work from different spots through the day. Task lighting, which allows people to turn lights on or off, is gaining traction, as it allows them to conserve energy. People can use the lights they need and turn off those they don’t.
  • Energy-efficient and hence cost-friendly: In the long run, these lights reduce expenses because their maintenance and replacement costs are low, and they have a long running life. And since they are energy-efficient, the power bills are also extremely low.
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