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How can lighting help retailers make the most of their space?
Savvy retailers know that lighting is crucial. Of course, it goes without saying that light makes merchandise stand out, but more than that, the right combination of general and accent lighting goes beyond capturing and focusing attention; it also helps to communicate that all important brand identity.
Consider Apple for example. Matching its brand image, Apple stores use bright diffused lighting to diminish glare and harsh shadows, alongside back-illuminated surfaces with cold colours. The result is a spacious, state of the art look and feel which matches the products Apple sells.
“Lighting highlights architectural elements, product qualities and creates virtual spaces - impacting how we feel, what we think of a product, and ultimately the choice of whether to purchase or not”
Mihaly Bartha, Head of Lighting at GPStudio
Different types of in-store lighting
Four main types of lighting are typically used within retail:
- Ambient. Primary lighting, ensuring customers have enough general light to feel comfortable while shopping
- Task. Applied where light is needed to perform certain tasks; for instance changing rooms or checkout areas
- Accent. Used to emphasise and attract the customer’s eye to a particular display or area
- Decorative. Fixtures that add to the look and feel of a store.
However, it’s more complicated than that. A study by the Lighting Laboratory at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology revealed some significant insights into the extent to which lighting influences shoppers, including:
- Shoppers tend to prefer warm lighting and moderate brightness with brighter lighting within shop windows
- Vertical rather than horizontal lighting helps products to stand out from their background more effectively
- Varying light - such as shifting the colour according to the time of day or when a particular product is promoted – appeals to shoppers
- People’s eyes are naturally drawn to areas of contrast, rather than the most brightly lit areas
- Shoppers are attracted to areas of blue light more than any other colour.
So, when it comes to maximising the impact of lighting in store, many retailers are missing a trick; with ambient lighting, task lighting, accent lighting and decorative lighting often incorporated into retail design as an afterthought. And no in-depth analysis of how light can be best used to boost sales.
But what if, rather than shoehorning light products into creative concepts, it was considered as an integral part of the store design? The benefit is simple: lighting that is fit for purpose will lead to improved sales.
So, if you are not doing so already, you must consider how best to use illumination in the initial project planning and costing phase.
The benefits of working closely with a lighting manufacturer
When partnering with a retail design lighting specialist (such as Unibox!), they’ll find the best solution to match your vision for the store; and even help you to implement it. Even better, bringing a lighting manufacturer in at the concept stage provides a range of undeniable benefits, including:
- Combined expertise and ideas; including technical, product, and material suggestions that may not otherwise have been considered
- More accurate quoting; by removing any unexpected costs when it comes to production
- Helping to facilitate the transition from the initial seed of the idea all the way through to the fabrication and installation
- Allow designers to be more creative; with the confidence that they have a trusted partner on hand to turn their ideas into a technical reality; adding value to their offering
- Spotting any difficulties with the design early on; reducing hold-ups in production
- Being able to cost-engineer the final solution to deliver budgetary savings
In fact, by inviting an experienced retail lighting manufacturer into the process from the off, retailers are more likely to achieve their original design objective; on time and on budget. So, why wait until the end of the process to include the manufacturer?
Retail design never stops
While lighting in brand development is important, brands shouldn’t rest on their laurels. For example, at the other end of the light spectrum to Apple, is Hollister.
Combining incredibly dimly lit stores with cleverly placed low lighting, in 2011 the fashion retailer used somewhat controversial lighting to entice the eye to certain products. Marketing towards 14 to 18 year-olds, Hollister created a dark, “club-like environment” which appealed to teens and confused their parents.
While initially wowing trendy teenagers, the retailer went on to suffer significant sales losses after it failed to refurbish its darkly lit stores to appeal to a new breed of millennials. In fact, it wasn’t until 2016, that Abercrombie (which owns the Hollister brand) promised to brighten up its stores as part of a rebrand. However by then, the retailer had already lost the hearts and minds of many of its customers.
The lesson here is that retail design – including lighting - needs to be evaluated regularly to ensure that brands don’t fall out of sync with their target audience.
Collaboration in action
With lighting now a major factor in the success of stores, our unique products are helping some of the UKs leading retailers to make the most of their space, and solve their retail challenges. From industry-leading LED lightboxes to concealed product display systems and cable free, illuminated shelving.
However more than this, as a UK manufacturer with expert engineering capabilities and advanced machinery on-site, our retail clients are never restricted by the limitations of a particular lighting product. And, where needed, we create bespoke, cutting–edge lighting solutions to meet your unique needs and challenges.
In 2016, with no preconceived ideas about what products should be used, or even what needed to be illuminated, fashion retailer Superdry trusted Unibox to come up with the best possible lighting solution for its largest ever mega-store in West Berlin.
Because of our relationship with Lumenal – a leading manufacturer of retail LED lighting solutions and part of the Unibox family – we not only advised Superdry on the best possible products, but also developed bespoke LED lighting to ensure even coverage and high standards of illumination throughout.
Overall, over 20 lightboxes were installed. Alongside our Ledge 46 corner lightboxes, the result incorporated new curved lightboxes to surround pillars; maximising the merchandising potential of this remarkable space.