Lighting is one of the most important tools of retail merchandising, yet it can be easily overlooked or underutilized in displays. Don’t make that mistake. Use lighting to maximize the impact of your displays and sell more stuff.
One of the best things about lighting is its versatility. When bright and focused, it can create drama and excitement. When dimmed down, it can create a cool, welcoming mood. Either way, lighting evokes emotional responses from your customers, and when you can do that you barely have to do anything else to close the sale.
There are three primary types of lighting. Primary lights are generally the overhead fixtures, usually fluorescent bulbs, that illuminate the whole space. It’s pretty straight-forward. One rule of thumb, however? Make sure fixtures are spaced no more than six feet apart along the ceiling. According to the Lighting Research Center, you want anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 Lumens per cubic feet.
Accent or secondary lighting includes well-placed spotlights on displays you really want to draw attention to. Be careful how you place them. Any angle sharper than 45 degrees may momentarily blind your customers. Secondary lighting also includes track lighting many retailers use to showcase a wall full of sellable art or clothing racks. It not only helps shoppers see the merchandise better, it also elevates the mood of the store and fosters buying impulses.
Incandescent lamps have sharply defined beams perfect for highlighting specific products within a display. Change up the mood incandescents or spotlights create by adding colored gels over the lights. Set designers in live theaters do this all the time. Know someone in the business? Get their advice. They may have a lighting tip that can really take a display to another level.
The third type of lighting is atmosphere lighting, which plays light against shadow to create a distinctive effect within a display. Say you've created a vignette of mannequins decked out in your team gear. You can use atmosphere lighting to make the display look more outdoorsy via shadowing or like pregame lineup announcement at the arena. Gels, pinpoint spotlights and black lighting all help create the kind of drama that makes customers feel like they’ve got to have that jersey or jacket or cap.
There is one more type of lighting in retail stores, albeit not tied directly to merchandising. Task lighting is just what it sounds like. It helps you and your staff perform specific jobs, whether bagging products behind the point-of-sale or, if you’re an outfitter, putting together trip itineraries at a designated work station.
Task lighting is functional and can be recessed and track lighting, pendant lighting and under-cabinet lighting, as well as portable floor and desk lamps. Make sure your task lighting doesn’t produce glare and shadows and is bright enough to prevent eye strain.
And what about natural light? A number of studies have shown that natural light improves everyone’s mood, not just customers. Employees are happier and more productive in naturally lit spaces. So if your team store happens to have lots of windows, don’t block them. Let the sun shine in. A brighter store brightens the bottom line.