By Matthew Wood
Good news for retailers: the National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales—not counting car, gas, and restaurant purchases—in November and December this year to increase up to 4 percent over last year for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year.
However, turning browsers into buyers all year round can be a challenge for retail environments. Retailers increasingly try to change up their shops to get buyers off the couch and into their stores. Once in stores, lighting can play a big part in swaying customers’ choices when it comes to products. Many times the importance of lighting at the point of sale is ignored and the focus is on elaborate packaging and store design. Nevertheless, the items on display will only interest customers if they’re presented in the right light.
Are the lights too bright? Or not bright enough? Will customers follow the path to the sunniest display or will they prefer a more subdued, intimate approach?
The answers to these questions lie in how well a retail establishment knows its customers and their shopping preferences under the lights.
There have been multiple studies on lighting’s effect on product sales. According to one, products can appear more alluring under a light that is slightly outside the traditional color range for white light. Contributors to another study favored lights that increase the saturation of reds, blues, and pinks and make whites appear even cleaner. With LED lighting it’s possible to optimize the color appearance of objects with a specific range of hues.
LEDs are easy to use in a lighting design. They are small and can be placed in nooks and crannies to accent a product, shelving, or signage. Many research firms have conducted studies on where and how to place lighting to increase product turnover. Here are some suggestions:
1. Contrast is good for retail lighting—it increases awareness and raises levels of attention.
2. Diffused general lighting can produce a sense of well-being. Vertical lighting helps customers’ orientation, and the easier it is for buyers to find their way around, the better chance for product sales.
3. Cool color temperatures in LEDs such as white make areas appear more open. Warm color temperatures make a space seem smaller and more familiar.
4. Accent lighting targeted in the lower third of shelves helps keep customers lingering and can boost sales. Lighting integrated on shelves at all levels is a good idea.
5. In addition to accent lighting, widespread backlighting of shelves adds to the attractiveness of the products.
In the face of online competition, retailers should give consumers unique in-store experiences that build emotional connections with shoppers. However, the good news is only about 10 percent of all retail purchases are actually made online. So this holiday shopping season, like in the past, the majority of purchases will be bought in brick and mortar stores. Holiday promos on trending products won’t impress consumers the same way exciting store experiences will—and lighting plays a big role in experience perception. Intriguing interior lighting designs can pull together entire store projects. It’s not just about answering customers’ questions—retail environments need to sustain enjoyable in-store experiences with designs that light the way to profitable sales.
Matthew Wood is president of Off The Wall.