Lighting in Design approached Eurolux and Regent Lighting Solutions (RLS) to get their views on retail lighting best practices.

Do you believe lighting is an area that most tend to neglect when designing a retail space?

Eurolux: In the past yes, but retailers are beginning to realise just how significantly lighting impacts the customer’s shopping experience in their store

RLS: Lighting is often overlooked or left as the last element in the design. It is overlooked in terms of the initial overall cost of the project, the positioning of the lighting in the correct areas within a retail space and emphasis on placement of merchandise. This is often due to a lack of understanding of the benefits of a well thought out lighting system.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to successfully lighting a retail space? Eurolux: ‘The brighter the light, the better’ is a common misconception – some retailers think that brighter lighting will attract customers and show off their merchandise clearly, but such harsh lighting actually has the opposite effect. It is uncomfortable on the customer's eyes, it doesn’t create a welcoming ambience, and it makes the store look flat and uninteresting.

RLS: Colour temperature and below the black body COBs to emphasise colour saturation is most often not clearly understood nor selected to enhance merchandise in the retail space. For example: 5000 K looks bright yet creates a sterile environment in a retail space so this should ideally be avoided.

Also, it is believed that a good lighting system costs a lot. This is often not the case; a well thought out lighting system can often achieve the desired effect at a reasonable price. A well-designed lighting solution will increase sales and return on investment. Another misconception is that natural light plays a big role in store lighting – this is not the case as it is unreliable.

How does the mood of a space affect the spending power of consumers? Does the way something is lit affect whether or not consumers will buy the product?

Eurolux: Absolutely. Quality lighting is key in enhancing the look of a product so that customers are enticed to purchase it. Poor quality lighting makes products look dull or unappealing. Think about change rooms with poor lighting design. When you try on clothes, you are less inclined to buy them if the lighting is unflattering. Lighting can also be used to highlight certain products in a store. For example, spotlights focused on a display stand of newly unboxed merchandise which the retailer is trying to promote.

RLS: The mood created by the lighting system plays a vital role as this affects consumer’s emotions and behaviour. Appropriate lighting in combination with the correct placement of products adds immense value. Lighting styles can create a different shopping experience for customers and can increase sales. Lighting creates a welcoming environment and mood that will ultimately encourage shoppers to purchase items that they otherwise would not have purchased. The benefits of good lighting mean that the customer will shop for a longer period of time, increasing the potential of buying more.

Do you think having either good or bad lighting can affect your brand identity?

Eurolux: Yes. People will always associate brighter lighting with a budget-friendly store, while high-end stores tend to lower their ambient lighting and use accent lighting to create a luxury look. It is also important to note that a younger demographic prefers shopping in stores with lighting in a cooler colour temperature, while an older demographic prefers warmer retail lighting. Retailers are encouraged to think about their target market and what they’re selling, and light their stores accordingly.

RLS: Lighting has an influence on how individuals perceive a particular brand; bad lighting can definitely damage the brand identity. For example, a space that uses open channel fluorescents may be associated with being a cheaper brand. A space that uses more contrast lighting, more light on the products and less light on the floor would be seen as a more premium brand. Having the right light makes a difference on the first impression a customer has of the products.

Lighting can help the brand tell a story about its store and products. It can create a brand experience customers will remember, and this will encourage them to return to the store.

What type of lighting tends to get the best response from consumers?

Eurolux: Lighting that gets the best response from customers is lighting that is in line with the brand’s target market. Retailers should consider who they are trying to attract when lighting their space and then go from there. A combination of ambient and accent lighting works well in all retail spaces.

Ambient lighting will provide the store with general illumination so customers and staff can move about comfortably and safely, while accent lighting will showcase and highlight specific merchandise and displays. The ambient lighting in a store should always be low enough to be an obvious contrast to the accent lighting. This allows the merchandise to stand out.

RLS: A well thought out lighting system will get the best response from consumers. Every application is different; each brand requires its own look and feel to differentiate itself from the next brand. By ensuring that the lighting designer or sales consultant understands the design intent of the interior designer and brand, the appropriate selection of a lighting solution will likely follow.

If you were to recommend one thing interior designers and architects should be careful not to overlook about lighting for retail projects, what would it be, and why?

RLS: Quality of the lighting not the quantity of light. Lighting is a key design element that, if used correctly, will complement the architecture, by ensuring reduced glare without compromising the required lighting levels. RLS often customises fittings to allow architects or interior designers to illuminate their project with their own style and bring their vision for the store alive.