Let us invite you to the world of commercial light.
Our main focus is knowledge. For us this is the foundation of our relationship with our customer, understanding both their needs and their brand values. And, of course, knowledge about lighting – how it affects people and, most importantly, how it can be used as a commercial tool.
We can offer you high-quality products specifically developed for retail environments. However, we want to take you through a complete lighting journey; discussing what lighting solution best suits your brand making sure your spotlights are showcasing your merchandise in the best possible way for your grand opening. But it doesn’t stop there. From education, concept development, light planning, aiming and crucially on-going maintenance, we will cover the entire spectrum of your lighting project. Continue reading to explore how.
The art of retail lighting
Light is complex. Its complexity has fascinated man since the beginning of time. Harnessing light for a specific purpose requires knowledge about how it behaves. There are many aspects to consider when designing an artificial lighting solution if it is to be visually effective, comfortable and pleasant. What we do know is that there is a number of elements that affect the result of the lighting solution.
First of all, to be able to see and experience light and the world around us we need contrasts. It is the transition from dark to light that creates contrast and this makes it possible for us to see. How and what we see is largely based on variations in our surroundings, whether it is differences in colour or in brightness levels.
When planning a lighting solution for a shop, it is important to resist the temptation to aim light everywhere to the same level. Planning the lighting solution is very much about balancing contrasts, brightness and shadows. The light should be aimed at the merchandise – what you want the customer to see – which allows small areas of darkness to be created in between the brighter zones to provide a contrast. A small portion of the lighting should spill over to the furniture and the interior of the shop to help with perception and orientation.
Light gives us shadows, which help us interpret depth and structure. The type of shadows you create depend on how you aim the light, which results in how we define an object. The right amount of shadows can create an environment which is interesting, informative and visually stimulating, but too many or too large shadows can make the impression unrealistic and deformed. Aiming the light in a precise way also avoids glare. Glare occurs when contrasts become too great and there is too much light for the eye to adapt to, causing discomfort and headaches. But it can be avoided with anti-glare protection such as honeycomb louvres or barndoors. High levels of light and reflections from glossy surfaces can be a cause of glare, which is why it is important to know what type of interior is being planned when creating the lighting scheme.
A vital ingredient in creating the right ambience, light is often described as warm or cool. The term for this is colour temperature, which is measured in degrees Kelvin (K). Colour temperature is about the feeling or the experience of light. A low colour temperature such as 2700K is described as warm, while a higher number such as 6500K has a much cooler feeling. A successful lighting design is often a careful mix of warm and cool light sources – as in nature where we see the warm sun on the cool sky. The light source will have a technical colour temperature and will affect the perceived colour temperature, depending on how it is reflected from other objects and surfaces nearby.
Planning the lighting in a shop is mainly about enhancing and highlighting the merchandise, but it is also about creating the right experience. Entering a shop with a warm colour temperature makes customers feel cosy and at home, while entering one with a cooler colour temperature is more likely to make them feel vibrant and energetic. Where merchandise is concerned, products with red colours come alive under a light source with high energy in the red spectrum, while an item that is blue or white will look much more attractive in a cooler light.
Different light sources have different abilities to render colours. This measurement is called colour rendering and is indicated with CRI (colour rendering index) where the sun is CRI 100. Most light sources have a CRI of 80-90. This is a very technical description of colour rendering, but the best way to chose a light source is to compare it on different colours and materials to see what looks best.
When planning a lighting solution for a shop, it is important to resist the temptation to aim light everywhere to the same level. Planning the lighting solution is very much about balancing contrasts, brightness and shadows. The light should be aimed at the merchandise – what you want the customer to see – which allows small areas of darkness to be created in between the brighter zones to provide a contrast.
The commercial impact of light
Light has been proven to significantly affect two human areas: vision and sense of excitement. Lighting is necessary for shoppers to process the relevant information in the shop, but it can also enhance specific products where the retailer wants to boost sales. In that way a lighting solution can increase sales. The commercial impact of a lighting installation can also relate to how well it correlates with the brand values and the total shop experience. These values can be more difficult to measure in direct sales, but we know a good lighting solution can reinforce brand value and give the visitor a better experience.
Most retail chains have an almost scientific way of planning their shops to get the maximum possible commercial impact. Merchandising is a word that retailers are very familiar with, but exactly how important it can be is not yet fully explored by all retailers. Lighting is an effective tool when you deliberately want to take the customer around the shop in a predetermined order, and a perfect way to complement and strengthen the effects of the layout of the store.
We have done tests in shops where we displayed soft drink bottles with narrow beams and a warm light to bring out the warm colours of the bottles. We compared this with the same display using only general lighting, which is very common in supermarkets today. The result was that the customers paid more attention to the accentuated bottles and the sales of those bottles increased. It all comes down to how our eyes and senses work. Our eyes and senses are always looking and searching for the brightest spot, that’s where the information is – no light, no information.
There are also aspects that will affect the visual experience other than the lighting itself. The colour and material of the interior as well as the walls, ceiling and floor affects the visual appearance of the room. In the end, for us to see and read, we need contrasts. The wide variety of different retail brands ranges from bright and overexposed solutions through plain general fluorescent schemes to very dramatic, dark colourful ones. This means that what is perfect for one brand, is not ideal for another. This makes our work as lighting professionals very interesting and pushes us to be in the forefront of retail lighting design, and to better understand and deal with our client’s needs – to ask ourselves how we can make a difference in making our client’s brand as commercial and effective as possible.