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Lighting strategy: the whole store is a shop window says Osram's Jason Vaughan

Jason Vaughan, Retail Project Sales Manager at Osram, discusses lighting as a crucial part of the in-store customer experience

A few years ago the high street shopping experience was clearly defined. First, the shop window was key to enticing passers-by to come in off the street. Stepping into the store, shoppers were given clear guidance with categorised rows of merchandise. Finally the check-out was easily found close to the exit.

Retail lighting was used to enhance this journey. The shop window was illuminated to a high lux level, while the shop floor would be fitted with blanket linear lighting to reflect the fact that retailers showcased their whole product portfolio in-store. Check-outs were then lit to a similarly high lux level, for shoppers to see where they could complete purchases before making an exit.

However, the retail landscape has now changed. Online sales will rise by 17 per cent in 2014 with more shoppers turning to their laptops, tablets and mobiles. As a sign of how retail has changed, Deloitte figures – from its report The Changing Face of Retail - suggest that only 9 per cent of consumers want to see the whole product range in-store. With so much competition from online sales and consumer habits shifting, the physical store is now tasked to create a more dramatic shopping experience with lighting playing a key role.

In-store lighting is used to create a comfortable environment that reflects a retailer’s personality and taps into a shopper’s emotions and sentiment towards a brand. With fewer products in-store and a habitual inclination to make more purchases online the shop window, as it was, is now extended to the whole store. Bespoke lighting installations help to create shops within shops and produce a congregation point for consumers to experience a brand from selected products. Rather than just driving purchases, lighting is used to arouse curiosity, create desires and positivity towards a brand. Accent lighting is higher to emphasise key products rather than a range. Colour rendering, colour temperatures and contrast are all considered to create an engaging brand experience.

To create this new retail environment, LED lighting is set to be a key influencer in retail decision-makers plans. Nine out of ten discussions between retailers and lighting manufacturers are already LED focused because they not only help to create attractive in-store environments, they also lower energy consumption and thermal output. However, LED is still a relatively new concept in retail – according to Building Research Establishment, only 10 percent of UK retailers use LED lighting. Fluorescent and metal halide options still dominate the market and can be just as effective to achieve aesthetic and energy goals.

Lighting in retail has far more than just a functional purpose. As retailers refurbish every three to four years, lighting is now a key enabler in promoting a retailer’s brand personality and creating a lasting experience that will stay with the new breed of consumer.