Can lighting help drive increased sales in stores?
Atmosphere and ambience are well-established influencers of consumer behaviour and whilst lighting is often seen as more functional and task-focused, it’s now emerging as another potential variable of atmospheric influence that could shape the consumer experience. It’s also driving innovation as lighting plays its part in retail transformation.There is little factual research around the influence of lighting; retail designs are typically based around links between lighting and mood, however there is an increasing body of evidence of the role lighting plays in retail psychology.
The importance of colour temperature
Unlike measuring temperature in degrees Celsius, the warmer a bulb’s light is, the lower its temperature will be. Most bulbs emit a white light, but this white light can range from warm to cool. Cold light, or daylight, measures at 5600K while candlelight, the measure of warm light, is 1200K.
Of note, a recent study by Zumtobel looked at the effectiveness of lighting parameters in the perception and preference of retail environments, revealing the significance of colour temperature within physical stores.
Although brightness was found to be an important factor for consumers, other factors like colour temperature and rendering were just as important. The results also showed consumers’ preference of warm lighting and moderate brightness.
The research also found participants preferred brighter lighting within shop windows, with vertical rather than horizontal lighting helping products stand out from the background more effectively. The ability to vary lighting was also found to be appealing, such as altering the colour according to the time of day or as part of a particular promotion.
In its conclusion, the study highlights the important role of colour temperature, with the potential for different colour temperatures and brightness levels to attract consumers to specific products and successfully direct them to certain parts of the store.
It’s an important outcome because it’s one of only a handful of evidence-based conclusions that connects the impact of light with human behaviours. Understand this should help and support retailers as they designed their physical customer journeys.
Human-centric lighting (HCL)
HCL puts humans in the centre when developing lighting systems, providing optimised retail environments by compensating for the lack of daylight and contributing to the natural circadian rhythm of humans.
In retail, HCL means brands can adjust the lighting ambience and colour temperature to match the products being sold. For example, it’s widely accepted that cool lights work well for glassware and jewellery as they enhance the overall lustre of the product, however in a florists, this kind of lighting would make even the most vibrant flowers appear stale and bland. A HCL approach means that product and environment are a key part of the formula that dictates a lighting approach in a way that will be most in tune with the consumers they wish to attract.
Building management system for lighting
In a nod to the retail Internet of Things (IoT), technology is emerging in the connected lighting space, offering cloud-hosted systems designed for multiple stores and retail distribution centres. New advances mean it’s possible to create a network of connected stores, allowing a retailer to create and manage uniform and consistent lighting schedules across its store portfolio from a single dashboard. This helps define lighting schedules at a store level with the ability to monitor and optimise settings according to the conditions of each store to cut down energy consumption, ensure compliance and deliver operational efficiencies.
This kind of technology can also be deployed usefully in food retail, where freshly picked and packed produce needs specific treatment to keep it at maximum freshness. Smart lighting technology means dedicated areas can be adjusted to suit the produce it displays.
For example, potatoes are best stored in the dark but this isn’t conducive to a grocery environment. By scheduling the lighting, it’s possible to limit exposure to light outside of opening hours. The opposite can be done with fresh herbs, by setting the lighting to stay on after opening hours, which can preserve their quality and freshness. The world of retail is evolving faster than ever, and fresh produce is no exception.
Of all the elements for creating the perfect shopping experience, lighting is possibly the most important area for consideration, as good lighting can bring a space to life, even if the other areas aren't quite as good. Lighting quite literally sets the scene for the store, and can be used to highlight, and indeed hide, different areas of the store.
Lighting can work hard; good lighting can distract, whereas if there is a particular area that needs focusing on, such as a display, lighting draws the customer to it. It can also directly impact revenue; attracting footfall and influencing purchasing decisions. Changing room lighting is renowned for being harsh and bright with many believing it to be unflattering; given that 60% buying decisions are made when trying on items this is an area where the right lighting could make a real, tangible difference.
In a shop window, catching the eye of a potential consumer is key. By using dynamic lighting as part of a display, in which the light is able to change its qualities, the ultimate objective is that the display elements, the movements and the colours in the shop window all work together perfectly to deliver just the right experience. With the help of the right lighting, this experience can be enhanced even further leading to an increase in people pausing as they pass the storefront and a translation into increased footfall with the store. A recent study by Capgemini has credited dynamic lighting as the reason behind an increased dwell rate outside a store of between 11 and 19% on weekdays and weekends respectively. By adding colour to specific areas of a store, the same report shows an increase of 15% in footfall to that area.
When lighting is more than lighting
Moving beyond its core purpose of providing light, retailers are now able to deliver next-generation innovation through data-enabled LED light systems that can collect and sent relevant information wirelessly to smart devices, creating an innovative and interactive store experience.
Through visible light communications (VLC), a unique code can be transmitted through the beam of LED light. This code can be detected by a smartphone’s camera, creating a real-time link between the consumer and the lighting system. As a result, it’s possible for the shopper’s smartphone to know exactly where it is and show relevant maps, product information and instore promotions based on the consumer’s profile.
It’s clear that lighting is far more than functional, and the ability of the industry to continue to innovate is illuminating in itself. It’s likely that more research will follow about the science that surrounds the impact of lighting on buyer behaviours but for now, the trialling and adoption of these new innovations is already showing positive results in sales performance.
Light the way with Sigma
From retail to leisure, hospitality to warehousing, we have extensive experience of lighting a vast array of spaces using conventional solutions alongside more innovative and creative systems.
Our holistic solution incorporates everything from initial design and specification through to procurement and installation, leaving you with a purposeful lighting solutions that meets the needs of your space and its users.
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