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The Next Revolution in LEDs is Control

BY Craig DiLouie

The LED revolution sweeping the building industry is now ready for the next stage: intelligent lighting control, which has the potential to transform the retail environment by making it more flexible, better understood and connective with shoppers.

LEDs are inherently dimmable, and many LED products are sold with dimming capability regardless of how the owner plans to control them. Pairing dimmable LED lighting with lighting controls can accelerate energy savings, extend product service life, satisfy energy codes and provide greater flexibility.

As digital devices, LEDs are also inherently compatible with intelligent lighting control, in which intelligence is embedded into each light fixture. This provides individual addressability of light fixtures in a network (an Internet of Lighting), control zoning/rezoning using software, instant setup and remote calibration, and two-way communication for monitoring and analytics.

Intelligent lighting control is increasingly going wireless, which simplifies design and installation while increasing opportunities for installation in existing spaces. Miniaturization allows integration of controllers and sensors within the fixture (or lamp). Color-tuning control allows retailers to select color or shade of white light that is optimal for presenting merchandise at its best, basing it on shopper preference (dressing rooms), display characteristics, time of day or season.

Manufacturers are now offering packaged solutions of light fixtures and controls that bring the best of LED lighting and lighting control together in a way that maximizes energy savings, facilitates asset management and simplifies installation. The LED will increase adoption of intelligent control, while intelligent control facilitates adoption of LED.

In the future, the “Internet of Lighting” will play a part in the “Internet of Things,” with the LED light fixture offering strong potential as a platform. As LED fixtures are installed, they could be specified with additional sensors (including video) and controls. One particularly interesting capability is visible light communication (VLC), with solutions now being demonstrated by companies like Acuity, GE and Philips. VLC allows indoor location positioning, with light used to transmit information to shopper’s cell phones using a store app to communicate wayfinding, coupons, recipes, etc. With the introduction of sensors in the fixture, the LED lighting could also monitor floor traffic and otherwise help retailers better understand what is happening on the sales floor.

We’re at the frontier of transformation that will be unlocked by these emerging capabilities, which take the typical conversation about light to the benefits from illumination/cost to total control — lighting that generates business data, expands capabilities and adds business value in new ways.

Craig DiLouie, LC, is education director for the Lighting Controls Association (lighting-controlsassociation.org).

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Pandora Sticks to the Plan

BY Dan Berthiaume

With some 3,200 franchised, independently owned and corporate stores, the fast-growing Danish jewelry retailer Pandora needs to ensure customer relationship management (CRM) consistency throughout its operation — especially during the heavily promotional holiday season. It does so by using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system and a retail portal based on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. The solution helps ensure that every store is aligned with the same marketing and customer service plan.

“We use Dynamics for tracking of visual merchandising at stores,” explained Phillip Kennedy, director of IT for Pandora, whose North American division is based in Columbia, Maryland. “We do store visits and upload photos of holiday promotions, tagged for management to review.”

In addition, Pandora uses a custom cloud-based platform-as-service (PaaS) retail portal built on Microsoft Azure for sharing CRM information, such as product master files. Through the portal, Pandora also executes holiday promotions, such as new product drops and email releases, across the organization.

“We manage retailer participation and planning and go back to review their performance,” said Kennedy. “We get our biggest promotional volume during the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays, as well as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. We’re able to scale up to handle the volume. Microsoft technology allows us to do it easily without significant increases in staffing.”

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Smart Furniture Uses Mobile to Promote Home for the Holidays

BY Dan Berthiaume

Furniture doesn’t leap to mind as a common holiday gift item. But by optimizing its customer experience for mobile devices and utilizing advanced personalization, Chattanooga, Tennessee-based online retailer Smart Furniture (which also runs a single flagship store) is making consumers think of the home for the holidays.

“Last year, we had the single biggest traffic pattern shift in company history,” said T.J. Gentle, president and CEO of Smart Furniture. “Our standard traffic increased 12% to 15%, while our smartphone and tablet traffic increased more than 100%.”

Smart Furniture has been busy this year creating a fully responsive site, using in-house technologies and resources, with a few outside contractors, to launch optimized versions of its site for different screen sizes, based on the same underlying code. The retailer is aiming to have the work completed by the fourth quarter in order to provide the best possible experience for mobile holiday shoppers.

In addition, Smart Furniture will be using in-house-developed personalization capa- bilities it developed this year to better target potential holiday shoppers. Noting that customers who take an online “Style Quiz” to create a customer profile have much higher conversion rates, Smart Furniture has begun creating “implied profiles” of shoppers based on buying patterns and other available data points. By calibrating personalized offers and inventory levels to these profiles, the retailer intends to boost holiday sales.

“We have gift-oriented home decor items, and there is also an increase in dining room table purchases in October as people realize they need to seat guests for holiday meals,” said Gentle. “We can target specific segments like young married professionals who have recently bought a home and will be hosting their first holiday get-together, and need a table to do so.”

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