A few months ago, I was out to do some grocery shopping but was turned away from the store when I arrived. It was the middle of the day and the whole store was shut down. Care to guess why?
A lighting outage.
Take that in for a minute. If you’re a store manager and your cash register is down, can you still operate your store? Technically, yes. There are workarounds for that. What if your toilets start overflowing or your internet goes down or your phone lines are down? Not ideal but, hey, you’re still in business.
That’s not the case when the lights go out. Unless your space has a ton of natural light when the lights go out, so does your business –– at least temporarily.
Lighting is fundamental to most any furniture retailer with brick-and-mortar space. It’s a bare necessity. But it has more bearing on your business than you may think. It’s easy to overlook the subtle effect that lighting can have in conveying your brand and influencing your customers’ experiences, that’s what’s not so obvious.
How exactly does lighting subconsciously affect your clients? It communicates the value of your products. It should complement and if done right, enhances what you’re selling.
Consider Wal-Mart, Big Lots, and Goodwill. What do all of these stores have in common? Their value proposition is simple: offer the lowest prices in town. One of the easiest ways to mark down the price of your product is to minimize overhead. Discount stores can achieve this by employing inexpensive, efficient lighting. The customer is not expecting and enhanced shopping experience beyond grabbing what they already know and expect. There are no fancy displays in these stores. No accent lighting. And bare-minimum merchandising to keep costs as low as possible for customers. Because of this unadorned, bleak look, customers have grown used to equating poor quality lighting and minimal merchandising displays with lower price points.
This strategy works great for those stores, but can you imagine walking into a Whole Foods furnished with outdated, cheap lighting? Subconsciously, you’d probably be thinking, “Why are these apples so expensive?”. Apply this same consumer perspective and perception to the furniture retailer environment.
Whether intended or not, low-quality lighting automatically makes the atmosphere feel as though the products should be at a lower price point. And that’s a two-way street –– high-quality lighting sets the stage for high-quality products.
Let’s use the same example as above to demonstrate. If you look closely while grocery shopping at Whole Foods, you may be surprised at the level of detail that goes into creating the customer experience. The thoughtful, intricate merchandising and beautifully highlighted produce are perfectly complemented by carefully designed, quality lighting.
Turn your eyes upward and you’ll notice beautiful pendant lights hanging down over the hot food bar, track lighting displaying the fresh, organically-grown produce, and can lighting built into the custom wood signage above the specialty cheese counter. Every detail is consciously designed to provide a specific atmosphere. The reality is, a thoughtfully-crafted customer experience at Whole Foods primes you for the higher price points on those apples or that block of gruyere.
Similarly, high-end retailers use beautiful, high-quality lighting to showcase their products. The color rendering of such lighting tends to be better in advanced lighting, allowing the true colors of the product to come across more fully. Under that kind of lighting, a $1,000 sofa or a $300 chair or a $10,000 dining room set doesn’t look out of place. Your subconscious is ready for those pricetags, thanks in part to the lighting.
Lighting matters, and not just when a store goes dark. The way your brand is perceived and the experience your customers have, even your bottom line, depends on the bulbs overhead.