No matter the shape or size of your retail operation, the design of your space is essential to attracting footfall and securing paying customers. You probably already know this.

That’s why you spent all that time on your window displays. It’s why retail locations across America select carefully-curated playlists, designed to encourage shoppers to examine the merchandise and make a purchase.

However, one crucial factor that you might have overlooked is your retail lighting. Study after study has shown that lighting design in retail locations has a direct impact on shoppers’ behavior.

The right lighting will get your visitors to interact with your merchandise and enhance customer satisfaction. Most importantly, the right retail lighting solutions will transport your place of business into a destination, where customers actually want to spend time.

Check out this complete guide to retail lighting to find out how you can leverage light to your advantage.

Know Your Lingo

Lighting has been an established pillar of retail marketing for decades now. As such, there are some universal terms and principles that any expert in the field will tell you. Before you start buying any lighting for your retail displays, make sure you’re all clued-up on the following lingo:

Task Lighting

This term describes your functional lighting that should be used to highlight information and guide your customers. This type of lighting will be used to spotlight areas such as changing rooms and checkouts, or draw attention to signage.

Decorative Lighting

As the name suggests, decorative lighting is all about enhancing visual and surface-level appeal. This is the lighting that you will use to entice customers into your store.

Ambient Lighting

While this is heavily tied to the mood of the space, ambient lighting also describes a very functional solution. This is the lighting that you use to eradicate any dark, dimly-lit, or dingy areas in your space.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is all about the details. This is the lighting you will use to draw attention to the things you actually want to sell. Accent lighting is a form of retail technology that you apply specifically to your product displays.

It’s All About the Atmosphere

Before going out and buying a bunch of LED lighting, you need to think carefully about what kind of atmosphere you want your space to evoke. To do this, you need to think long and hard about your company’s values, audience, and USP.

Do you want to create a spa-like atmosphere, filled with brightness? Do you want to create a sultry, sexy atmosphere? Do you want to emphasize that your products are cutting-edge or empowering?

Answering all of these questions will help you figure out the kind of atmosphere your retail location should evoke.

Remember to look carefully at your competitors or at retail chains that have managed to capture the atmosphere you aspire to. How are they using lighting to achieve this?

Set Your Color Temperature

While there are many different atmospheres that you can choose to evoke, all of your options fall into one of two camps: warm and cold. Some locations prefer a cold, fresh, and somewhat clinical atmosphere.

Others prefer a warm, relaxing, and soft atmosphere. The right one for you depends on your products and the people that you hope will buy them. Once you have figured this out, you can start building a lighting system that strikes the right color temperature.

The Kelvin (K) rating of your LED lightbulbs will tell you exactly what the color temperature of the specific lighting solution will be. You can use this to implement different color temperatures at different locations, such as when highlighting product displays.

As a general rule, interior designers say that all retail spaces should keep their color temperature range between 2700K and 4000K. However, some locations – such as jewelry stores – often use much higher temperatures of 5000K, to better make those diamond displays sparkle.

Understanding Balance

While there are two “camps” of color temperature, there are many gradients in between. Getting maximum impact from your retail lighting depends on your ability to strike the right balance.

Using the same level of lighting across every inch of your store will create a space that is devoid of atmosphere, once that will feel akin to a dentist’s office or an airport.

Meanwhile, using too much contrast on, say, your product display lighting, will create a sense of oversaturation that visitors are likely to find off-putting. While there is no magic formula for getting this balance right, it is not difficult to figure it out.

All it takes is some trial and error. Take the time to tinker with various lighting options and color temperatures, until you find exactly the right mix for your space.

What Do You Want to Draw Attention To?

At the end of the day, the purpose of lighting is to reveal. It is to draw attention to the things that matter, bringing them out of the darkness and into the light.

As such, your lighting strategy should be built around what you want to draw attention to.

This is not just about your products. It’s about the important interaction points in your retail space, such as the checkout and the dressing rooms.

It’s about being selective, and highlighting some products at the expense of others. It’s also about using some discretion, and thinking hard about the right lighting approach for each product.

This kind of measured, considered approach is what turns a generic retail space into one that people will come from miles around to visit.

Texture is Everything

Let’s talk about texture. This term describes how your lighting interacts with the materials and the furnishings within your space. As such, it is as much about the materials you choose as it is about the lighting solutions themselves.

Knowing how different lights will interact with different surfaces is essential for nailing texture. For example, shiny surfaces will reflect ceiling light, which will create an unsettling effect for customers.

Meanwhile, direct light on specific objects will create shadows, thus emphasizing those objects and added depth and texture. Here are some essential ways to create much-needed texture with retail lighting:

  • Recessed lights around product displays
  • Track lighting to highlight product features
  • Frosted glass lighting to diffuse and add warmth
  • Uplights to add warm, softness ambiance
  • Spotlights to emphasize quality materials

These simple textural elements are often used in very high-end stores, and are a must for any ambitious retail space.

Bring Out the Unique Elements of Your Retail Space

Believe it or not, every retail space is unique. Even the most seemingly boring space will have elements that can be brought to life with the right lighting. For your space, it is essential to identify that unique elements of your retail space that can be leveraged by your lighting.

Use varying levels of brightness to emphasize the best features of your space at the expense of the worst ones.

Make sure to only use lighting fixtures that actually complement the current design and decor of the retail space. Try and focus on so-called ‘volumetric’ lighting, which tends to cast a wide cone to provide a more general lighting without being overwhelming.

All of these approaches will help show your customers just how unique your retail space is, and why they should want to spend time there.

Keep It Smart

No matter what your retail space is, your lighting needs to be versatile. You should be able to adjust your lighting as needed. For example, you might want to dim your lighting when it is later in the day.

You might want to adjust your lighting so that certain products are highlighted on certain days. You may also wish to adjust your lighting so that it automatically dims or switches off outside of opening hours.

For all of this, you’ll need to invest in smart LED lighting. This will give you maximum flexibility with your retail lighting, and increase cost efficiency.

Always Flatter Your Customer

Your number one priority should be to make your customers feel good. If your customer sees themselves in the mirror in your store and hates how they look, they probably aren’t buying what you are selling.

We’ve all been in changing rooms that have shattered our self-esteem. Don’t contribute to this problem. Use soft, underhead and level lighting that flatters customers and brings out their best bits.

Avoid harsh overhead lighting anywhere near a mirror. Always prioritize making your visitors look and feel like a million dollars.

We Have Your Retail Lighting Solutions

The right retail lighting can make the difference between a thriving business and a place where customers only visit once. By simply knowing your products and your customers, you can figure out the perfect retail lighting scheme for your space.

Regardless of your lighting and display needs, we have got you covered. We offer extensive expertise and years of experience in helping our customers create spaces that generate footfall and revenue.

If you would like us to do the same for you, do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly and professional team today.