What Is Retail Lighting?
In simple terms, retail lighting is a practice of designing and specifying lighting fixtures and placements to make retail space visible and highlight products or areas of the store. Thoughtful lighting design is crucial to the success of any retail complex as it needs to provide adequate lighting for wayfinding while creating an inviting environment for customers. However, one of the most common mistakes we often observe in retail lighting is the overemphasis on brightness and brightness only. With this approach, the retail environment can easily fall into the trap of “brightness competition”, as every store competes to be the brightest and most exaggerated in their overall lighting scheme. As a result, numerous elements, such as visual, emotional and experience, can be neglected in retail lighting.
“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” – Aaron Rose, American film director, artist, exhibition curator and writer.
With the lighting industry shifting to the human-centric lighting concept, we also see a transformation in retail lighting approaches as shopping centres adopt customer-centric lighting method that concentrates on people, their needs and their holistic experience. According to Zaltman (2003), 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious, and emotion drives purchasing behaviours and decision-making. Therefore, to create a memorable customer journey, it is essential to take a holistic approach to shape the retail experience to be more stimulating to the five senses. One of the most critical elements that greatly determines the visual aspect of an environment is lighting. Central to merchandising strategies, lighting shapes a store or complex’s appearance and the consumers’ perception of them. When it comes to lighting shopping centres, it is crucial to have a holistic understanding of the retail journey, which starts from the entrance to customers’ in-between rest stops in foodcourts and restrooms and ends when they exit through parking lots or valet areas. Lighting, in this context, can aid customers in navigating their journey and creating a comfortable yet exciting atmosphere for a wholesome experience.
Understanding The Purpose
Nowadays, shopping complexes aim for a homelike and inviting feeling, and lighting is vital in making shoppers feel comfortable and at home. Understanding the purpose of retail lighting design helps us filter out the best kind of lighting needed for retail projects.
When we worked on Karrinyup Shopping Centre, one of Perth’s leading multi-complexes, the initial step was to follow and respect the objective and design intent. Electrolight designed Karrinyup’s lighting scheme to infuse the shopping environment with a familiar sense of homely comfort.
The centre primarily utilised soft lighting and fittings with high colour rendering capabilities and warm colour temperature. As a result, the perfect and most welcoming lightscape was created for the project to create a seamless experience from the interior to the exterior and vice versa.
Building a Journey
Shopping malls nowadays are not only destinations for shopping but are also becoming all-rounder entertainment precincts that encompass multiple attractions, from cinemas, arcades, and bars to outdoor dining.
Instead of a quick in-and-out transactional experience, visitors now can and do spend more time in malls as they have more options for entertainment. Because of this variousness in possibilities, mall visitors can now personalise their customer journey to suit the purpose of each visit, which means no two customer journeys are ever the same. Therefore, it is crucial to deliver a lighting solution that is comfortable and unobtrusive to cater to longer visits. At the same time, a good lighting scheme also supports placemaking. It acts as visual cues for wayfinding while subconsciously creating seamless transitions between different areas, from moments of entry to exit and all the in-betweens.
From entry to exit
With Karrinyup, the interior space uses a combination of downlights and linear, wall, and ceiling lights to accentuate merchandise accurately and generate feelings of enjoyment and positivity. In the Eastern Precinct, one of the primary architectural features is the grand open void with a high ceiling that connects the ground level to the one above. To highlight the arch ceiling feature, we utilised track lights that run horizontally to the ceiling as they render a softer light compared to the conventional approach of large commercial downlights with big reflectors and high output. At the same time, the lighting design of Karrinyup features a lot of indirect illumination through the use of linear light, which adds depth and brings out the vertical of the space.
Another key indoor area of Karrinyup is the food court. Again, with the same aim of creating a comfortable atmosphere, the design utilised a lot of dark lighters with a warm colour temperature. Compared to the standard approach, where food courts are often overwhelmed with illumination, this lighting decision is successful in that it is gentle and pleasant, perfect for a dining space, yet is dynamic enough to support the hustling vibe of a heavy foot-traffic area.
Customers’ experience also associates with the use of space, especially for the open outdoor area. Therefore, choosing the right fixtures and installation method is of utmost importance. In the case of Karrinyup, it was a concern for Electrolight that poles or bollard lights would overwhelm the outdoor space. Thus, we ended up with a catenary installation that would make the most of the landscape. Simultaneously, we had uplights and spotlights featured throughout the space, along with linear lights highlighting the water feature to create a sense of safety for wayfinding while maintaining an enchanting atmosphere for all occupants.
Upon their exit, customers are to wait for their transportation service in the valet area. Illuminated by darklighters with low glare and subtle light sources, the space exudes comfort to create a great lasting impression that hopefully attracts return visitors.
All the in-betweens
When lighting a retail complex, it is crucial to create a pleasant and feel-good atmosphere for customers for the duration of their experience. An inconsistent lighting scheme with varying light quality can disrupt their mood and negatively influence their attitudes and behaviours. Therefore, the best lighting plan should be considerate of the project as a whole and not just key areas.
Compared to the key areas, such as the entrance, storefront or food courts, the in-between facilities, such as restrooms, vanities or changing stations, are often inadequately capitalised in retail stores since they are not commercialised spaces (Piha &Räikkönen, 2017). In recent years, however, we have seen a shift towards a more rounded approach to these spaces.
With Karrinyup, every detail was well-thought-out. Upon entrance to the restroom area, visitors are led through a corridor brightly lit with indirect lighting and wall-mounted fixtures. Supporting safe movements, the design eliminates feelings of uncertainty or unsafe. Inside, the restrooms utilise a combination of indirect light tracking the ceiling periphery and downlights for ambience. To add installed around vanity mirrors. By minimising the use of downlights, shadows are limited, which makes the people and the space look and feel much more appealing.
In the subtlest ways, retail lighting influences consumer attitudes and behaviour. Therefore, when lighting for a retail project, it is crucial to maintain a well-planned and high-quality lighting layout for every project section.
Embracing a Wholesome Experience
Shopping centres are turning into little hubs within suburbs that draw people in to spend more time and money. It is an informal understanding that the absence of an inviting ambience and an enjoyable overall experience will negatively impact shoppers’ decisions to purchase and return. Suitable lighting will set the right atmosphere and mood, direct shoppers to the store’s key areas, and offers them the overall background for a perfect shopping experience.