Smart, safe, efficient. This is often the mantra for many businesses when it comes to assessing or upgrading their physical spaces, and retailers are by no means an exception. From illuminating shop floors to well-lit safe warehouses and distribution centres, lighting systems are an integral component of any space. Steve Gardner, Managing Director of Eco UK Group explains more.
It therefore comes as no surprise that lighting is one of the largest contributing factors to energy consumption across the retail industry, accounting for around 22% of the sector’s total demand.
With that said, retailers can draw a positive outlook, in that the larger the scale, the greater the benefits of change. In recent years, retailers have been part of a national stepchange in the adoption of energy efficient light sources that make for significant savings to electricity bills.
This was illustrated in a 2020 study by energy provider E.ON, finding that almost half (46%) of retailers installed LED lighting over the previous year. Yet, with one eye on sustainability and the other on reducing operational costs, there is still lots more work to be done.
Against the backdrop of a year in which many retailers suffered significant business losses due to necessary physical closures, upgrading lighting systems can play an integral role in supporting them with lower running costs, better resilience and mitigated risk during periods of downtime.
Smart from the start
The need for energy effective solutions has caused many retail businesses to assess the trade-off between the logistical process of overhauling existing systems with the advantage of implementing a more energy-efficient alternative.
However, in order to make the correct retail lighting decisions, it is important to understand that no two retail spaces today are identical and, despite many similarities, each come with their own set of requirements.
Beyond all-important quality control and longevity, there are some key considerations for retailers to factor in when assessing and designing an effective lighting setup. Much like the smart lighting solutions now available, this process requires an intelligent approach.
Understanding the needs and requirements of each retail space is the essential first step for building a more efficient lighting system that will simultaneously drive cost and energy savings, improve a company’s bottom line and most importantly, protect workers and customers.
In environments such as factories, warehouses and distribution centres, bad lighting can result in hazards and injuries, with them requiring much more safety lighting than that of physical retail shops.
In the case of long standing buildings, the process of replacing an existing or outdated infrastructure with newer and more environmentally-friendly systems can be daunting as additional measures often need to be accounted for during the process.
A finger on the environmental pulse
Energy-efficient alternatives are not only increasing in demand due to their operational advantages; they are rightfully increasing in importance on the environmental stage. The installation and delivery of LED lighting technology has proven to be a cornerstone of retail energy efficiency within company spaces and warehouses of all sizes and purposes.
Well regarded as a more energy efficient form of lighting, LED is opening the door to easier ways for retailers to manage consumption and aid sustainability. Maintenance has also previously meant significant annual costs for any lighting installation.
However, introducing smart lighting systems is an effective way to improve management strategies, enabling companies to monitor and control how much electricity is being used whilst allowing users to remotely access the systems from their mobile devices – removing the need to be on site to manage consumption.
Smart systems follow schedules and make decisions, and when operated alongside the right energy plan can still help businesses save thousands – even when they aren’t able to open their doors. That allows retailers and site managers to control the outputs of each luminaire or group of luminaires maximising energy savings at all times, bringing long-term efficiencies, a reduction in environmental impact and a return on investment.
In addition to substantial operational benefits, making the switch to LED lighting provides a sustainable contribution towards the fulfilment of long-term environmental objectives for retail businesses.
They allow companies to save in excess of 70% in lighting energy costs, significantly reduce the cost of carbon tax as well as lowering maintenance costs and can provide companies lighting large spaces with significant energy savings and even greater sustainability.
Long-term lighting for the ages
Significantly lower energy consumption means a reduced carbon footprint and less impact on the environment, and in turn builds a lighter, brighter and less obstructed working environment with improved visibility for people working or shopping in the space.
As the UK bids to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, efforts that make strides towards this higher purpose are no doubt a long-term priority for retail and commerce brands beyond their own sustainability and operational objectives.
Aside from the clear and unquestionable environmental factors, the most obvious and instant benefits of LED lighting technology can be found in its quality and lifespan. The average life expectancy of LED lighting solutions is between 35,000 to 50,000 hours, a feat that is significantly longer than your typical incandescent, halogen or Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL).
To put this into context, if used 12 hours a day, a 50,000 hours bulb will last more than 11 years. In a retail setting, this brings about huge cost savings not only through lower power consumption, but by minimising the rate of light bulb replacement on a large scale.
As retail warehouses and distribution centres are rising in an age of eCommerce, spaces will inevitably become larger and with that, more complex in install and maintenance. However, adding the likes of LED lighting to the mix will ensure that processes such as this will not burden workers with frequent replacements and when combined with effective remote management tools, will allow those responsible for upkeep to achieve more with less.
The conversation around retail lighting, in many ways, mirrors the UK’s economic path; a focus on working smarter and building better resilience to withstand the nuances of ever evolving standards, regulations and environmental expectations.
While upgrading these systems does require much more than just flicking the proverbial switch, investing in systems that can not only support retailers in withstanding the challenges of today, but will help them to meet the long-term demands and bring about a degree of certainty and assurance in what is a seemingly unpredictable future.