Lighting Application Series: Intelligent Retail Lighting

There is arguably no other industry where lighting has such a direct influence on sales than in the retail industry. Smart lighting helps shoppers notice your store, feel comfortable going inside, and makes your products stand out and look appealing. Considering all these benefits and more, we decided to make intelligent retail lighting the focus of this week’s post in our continuing Lighting Application Series. Below, we’ll talk about the places in your retail space where illumination is most important and how you can actually save money by upgrading or retrofitting your current luminaires.

Retail Lighting LED


Where Smart Retail Lighting Matters Most

In the world of retail, good impressions are paramount for making sales. These good impressions should start before folks even enter your store and then continue throughout the whole shopping experience. While there’s a whole gamut of things that go into making shoppers feel comfortable, one of the best and easiest ways is through illumination. Here are seven areas where intelligent retail lighting can have the greatest effect:

1. Outdoor Signage

Dull, flickering, or partially burned-out lights in your store’s outdoor signage tells passersby that you either don’t pay attention to detail, are too busy to fix the bulbs, or don’t have the money to make repairs. None of these messages instill confidence in customers and may actually keep them from entering your building. On the other hand, vibrant, well-maintained signs look professional, are more noticeable, and make people feel good about going in your store.

2. Other Outdoor Lighting

Signage might be your first step in getting the attention of potential customers, but you can make your building appear even more inviting and safe by strategically placing lights throughout the outdoor property. It’s especially crucial to keep parking lots brightly lit, because many shoppers won’t stop at your store if it looks dim and unsecure. You may also want to add lights along sidewalks, under walkways, in the landscaping, or flooding window displays and signs. All of these things beautify your property and offer a warm feeling that may motivate customers to choose your establishment over a competitor’s.

3. Ambient Lighting

The ambient, or general, lighting creates an instant “mood” in your store and helps shoppers orient themselves to your layout as soon as they step inside. You can use slightly dimmed lights to establish a relaxed, calm, or mysterious atmosphere, or, for a more energetic feel, you may opt for brighter illumination. Either way, the ambient lights should always be vivid enough for customers to see your whole store and find what they’re looking for. Also, employees shouldn’t have to struggle to see all shoppers and monitor merchandise.

4. Accent and Display Lighting

Even the greatest products can look ho-hum if it’s just sitting on a dull shelf with no accent light to highlight its color, shape, and texture. Alternatively, a mediocre item can look absolutely dazzling when seen in its “best light.” Merchandise really “pops” when placed under accent or display lights that contrast the ambient lighting in the room. It also makes it much easier for shoppers to find the items they want — and perhaps some they didn’t even realize they wanted. If you can’t put all your products under lights, consider placing accent illumination over your most significant items or at various places inside the building that will catch the eyes of shoppers and entice them to explore deep within the store.

5. Refrigerator Cases

Without illumination, refrigerator cases look dim and possibly turned off, which means customers might avoid the units altogether or at least struggle to see what’s inside. Besides basic functionality, smart refrigerator lighting makes food look fresher and more appetizing (two major selling points). In fact, many “higher end” grocery stores sell some of the same items as budget stores, but use strategic lights to make their products appear superior and consequently demand a higher price. In retail, presentation is highly influential, and illumination is a major factor in any quality presentation.

6. Employee Areas

Smart retail lighting not only influences the moods and impressions of your customers, it also affects your employees’ comfort and productivity. Workers who don’t struggle with the glares, eyestrain, and general unease that comes from poor lighting are able to work efficiently and interact more pleasantly with coworkers and guests. So, while illumination on the store floor is important, don’t forget about checkout aisles, break rooms, offices, prep areas or delis, bathrooms, and similar areas.

Energy Efficient Options

Fluorescent, halogen, and metal halide lights are the traditional choices in and around stores, and while many of these are available in energy efficient options, LEDs are quickly becoming the favorite luminaires among those in the retail industry. This is because LEDs offer bright, crisp light that really accentuates the textures and colors of products. Also, LEDs are small yet powerful, which means they work equally well in parking lots as they do in refrigerator cases. Finally, they are the most energy efficient option available today and can save businesses thousands of dollars over the bulbs’ lifetimes. This is especially true considering many LEDs qualify for rebates or tax incentives, and they produce less heat, which reduces demands on HVAC and refrigerator systems.

Other Benefits of LEDs for Retail Lighting:

  • Produces consistent, uniform brightness in signs
  • Can illuminate large areas, including parking lots
  • Has a high light output that deters thieves and trespassers
  • Requires less maintenance
  • Improves appeal of store and merchandise while lowering operating costs
  • Offers rich, vibrant color and doesn’t fade or discolor items
  • Reduces glare
  • Has flexible design options and can fit in tight or small spaces

Making the Switch

Making the switch to LED lights in your retail store can seem like a big and possibly expensive undertaking, but because they’re so energy efficient and tend to boost sales, you’ll likely see a ROI in a short time period. After that, you can simply enjoy greater profits in an optimally lit environment. However, regardless of whether you choose LEDs or some other efficient retail lighting technology, never underestimate the power of proper illumination to bring in customers and encourage them to purchase items. Your store’s lighting may actually end up being your business’ best “sales person,” as it entices shoppers, makes them feel comfortable, and calls their attention to your products.

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