With LEDs widely regarded as the modern lighting solution of choice, one family-run company is looking to enlighten the masses.
How is the Internet of Things changing the way we shop? We might expect inventory or the supply chain to be affected by changes in technology, but there is one aspect of the shopscape that is hiding in plain sight: lighting.
“Modern lighting systems have undergone a transformation. Incandescent bulbs are hot, wasteful, don’t last long and many countries have restricted their sale. Fluorescent lighting is cheaper but harsh, difficult to control and less attractive.”
Both types of lighting have given way to LEDs, which offer more flexible lighting solutions, but not all retailers have caught up yet.
Shoplight, founded in 2014 by Mark and Melanie Shortland, puts the power of LEDs into the hands of stores. “Shops have always been about creating an experience for the customer,” says Ms Shortland, “and with the threat from online shopping, customer experience is only becoming more important.”
Thinking about the customer experience is what kickstarted the business in the first place, she notes: “Mark felt, after 20 years of working with large manufacturers in the lighting business, that there was a gap in the market. As the offer was getting more high-tech, old fashioned customer service was missing and that’s where we stepped in with Shoplight.”
“Mr Shortland decided to differentiate the business by demonstrating to clients that the business understood the fast-paced nature of store opening programmes and the dynamic requirements of the retail sector that often drive down costs and force more nuanced competition through product and service.”
“Early on, we secured an order from Skechers,” he says. “Although it was a small order it led to us supplying Skechers with their lighting solutions across the UK, Europe and in Africa and certainly allowed us to gain confidence and momentum with other clients.”
Today, their client list includes Moss Bros, Selfridges, T2, Waterstones, Jigsaw and Lush. Mr Shortland says: “Some of these clients have moved from long-established relationships with our larger competitors, which really reinforces our belief that great service matters now more than ever and that we are definitely doing many things right.”
Looking ahead, he predicts that flexible lighting will become more responsive to customers, with IoT-enabled luminaires allowing shopping environments to adapt to new moods and settings at the flick of a switch – or increasingly a tablet. “This will help retailers put the customer at the centre of retail experiences, encouraging people to visit, stay and buy,” he says, “and Shoplight are playing a leading part in this evolution.”