How does lighting affect sales in retail?

How does lighting affect sales in retail?

Whether you are lighting your store or your exhibition stands, retail display lighting is an essential consideration.  There is science behind the impact of design in retail.  There is a whole load of proof that a well-designed store will achieve much higher sales than one with a tired interior.  It makes sense too that an interestingly lighted store will also encourage return visits and so bolster your sales.

Ultimately, investment in the right lighting in your store could pay for itself.  The boost in sales could easily offer a complete return on your investment. This is not only about energy efficiency, which in a time of high utility costs, is significant.  It is also about the customer experience.  Let’s explore the impact of lighting in more depth.

Lighting keeps the customer on track

With a combination of dimmed light and bright accent lighting, you can guide your customer to the most critical retail units in your store.  Not only is the level of brightness significant in this, but also the hues you select.  You should try to choose both colours in the cooler spectrum to act as a highlight to those lights that are bright and warm.  The customer will naturally be drawn to those warmer, cosier areas of the store – therefore, subliminally guided to your feature pieces that will make you the most revenue.

Your lighting fixtures are also an important representation of your brand.  If you hand industrial light shades from the ceiling, you are creating the look of a loft.  This could be the perfect branding for a BoHo wine store looking to be edgy and cool.  Wall fixtures can, in contrast, make the same store feel quite intimate and for a more sophisticated audience.  The lighting can be an instantaneous way of communicating the brand.

Research leads to decision-making

Stores such as Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer have made wholesale changes to LED lighting.  Neither store is happy to say that any increase in sales they have enjoyed since this installation is a result of the lighting change.  They note that there are too many variables to make this claim.  However, they have experienced an uptick in sales since the move.

However, the experience revealed in research proved that their lighting choices could have had an impact on the bottom line.  A 21-week research project in The Netherlands noted that LED lighting scenarios did affect buying behaviour.  Although the research was funded by Philips lighting, the research agency employed presented evidence of an increase in profit that more than made up for the investment in a lighting change.  The headline conclusion from the study reported that an almost 2% increase in sales could be attributed to the dynamic lighting installation.

How can you use lighting?

Research suggests that there are six ways to use lighting to improve sales.  You could:

  • Use contrast: contrast is your friend because you can use the light to heighten levels of interest and attention to certain parts of your store.  This means you can play with the perception of the customer, who may see some areas of your store more desirable.
  • Use colour temperature: lighting can be cool and warm – with blue-based lights being colder than yellow-based lighting.  Blue based lighting has a more natural feel and is more conducive to long periods of browsing.  However, warmer colours give the impression of intimacy and comfort.  Changing the colour temperature could have a significant impact on your customer’s experience of the space.
  • Distribute light effectively: the way you orientate your lighting can act to guide the customer around the story.  If you have ever wandered around IKEA, you will be aware of being guided through the maze of the showroom and then the warehouse by the skilful placement and direction of the lights.
  • Make the window most dramatic: using accented light in the window can have a powerful effect on your curb appeal.  Using low-level illuminance in the daytime can save you money, while the odd spotlight in the evening can make your store seem welcoming.
  • Dim your lighting: dynamic lighting on the lower shelves could have the effect of drawing the customer’s attention to your bottom shelves and so linger longer.  The longer the customer is in the store, the higher the percentage chance for conversion to a sale.
  • Bright backlighting: sometimes it is less about subtlety and more about drama.  Using a wide-area backlight of the shelves can produce an attractive lighting effect to draw the attention of the customer.
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