Experts in the retail lighting and design sector push for smarter lighting in retail, say lighting can be used to build brand identity
Experts from retail lighting and the décor industry debate that smart and flexible lighting standards in regional malls can help brands build an identity as well as save a considerable amount of energy. These and other topics were discussed by an expert panel from the retail lighting sector that included manufacturers, consultants, facility management companies, and retail operators. The panel discussion was second in the series of topical roundtables organized as a part of Smart Stores Expo 2017.
With the tremendous growth in the number of shopping malls and high level of competition, lighting plays a crucial in visual merchandising. However, malls in the region are known for setting “Brighter the better” lighting standards, regardless of brand concepts and its impact on retail sales. Meanwhile, cost and energy saving remains a priority in the retail lighting sector, giving way to the advent of tunable lightings and shift to LED lights.
Commenting on the uniform levels set by malls in the region Srinivasa Raghavan, Senior Division Manager – Design Fashion 1 of the Chalhoub Group, said, “It is a challenge for the brands to stand out and keep up healthy competition in a uniform light setting. However, recent trends have seen malls segregating brands, as a result, lighting levels vary for each group of stores selling similar products or areas with specific themes. Bright lighting with an option of fine-tuning can be helpful in providing better customer experience in a multi-brand environment.”
Charles Wright, Retail Sales Manager at Fagerhult Middle East stated that, “Shopping Malls in the region have a totally different lighting concept to that of European equivalents.” Many of the brands that Fagerhult work with in Europe maintain that lighting is at the core of their interior design and that lighting is a fundamental part of their brand identity. The Middle East shopping outlets have adopted a ‘brighter the better’ approach to lighting stores, with some lux levels exceeding 3500 lux in shop windows. Key elements that we implement during design, such as contrast and shadowing, are neither here nor there in the region. At Fagerhult, we are trying to introduce smarter, dynamic solutions to end users and consumers – drawing upon the idea of phototropism, to draw the eye to the brightest parts of the stores, making the merchandise stand out and encourage sales. At Fagerhult, we believe that a high quality lighting concept can increase sales by up to 35% – the Middle East may be slightly behind the curve when it comes to LED and smart solutions, but I’m positive that in no time at all, the levels here will be akin to those in Europe, if not superior.
Abdo Baaklini, Marketing Projects manager, Debbas Electric LLC pointed that too bright lux levels inside the malls can result in consumers being emotionally detached to the store. “Given the natural conditions, people in the region are accustomed to bright lights. However, when we value engineer keeping up with high lux standards is a challenge as lesser developed products may pose a risk of degradation in terms of colour. This causes two major problems to the retailer, firstly, it affects the consumer perception of product quality, which might affect their interest in the brand. Secondly, it affects the mobility in stores, this will in turn result in consumers loosing emotional attachment to the space they are in. We should push the industry to accept light levels as per consumer needs and brand experiences,” he said.
Speaking about the emerging trends in the sector, Sergio Padul, Technical Director, IGuzzini, said, “There is an increasing demand for lighting control to improve visual merchandising. As the store display concepts change every now and then, retailers are looking into possibilities of colour rendering to match lightings to the collection on display. This helps them in creating a different atmosphere that matches their collection and provides unique shopping experience to the consumer. The recent shift to LED lighting in retail has made it easy for retailers to have flexibility in lighting.”
Giving an example of how consumer controlled smart lighting can add value in retailing, Olav Scholte, Segment Marketing Manager at Philips Lighting said that more and more stores are opting for green retail practices and there is a high level of awareness among people about energy saving. “Philips implemented the indoor positioning system in aswaaq supermarkets, which works with the light communication system. The light communication app helps the customer navigate to the product they are looking for. The project looks beyond illumination, and delivers extra value to retailers, allowing them to provide additional benefits to end users,” Olav added.
Bringing in the facility management and engineering perspective, Stuart Harrison, Solutions Director at Emrill, said that cost saving is a major decision-making factor when it comes to lighting upgrades in the region. “A lot of retailers here are using generic lux standards specified by malls, or moving to automated LED lighting controls, but very few of them do market research on consumer preferences. An important aspect of in automated lighting is controlling it intelligently to enhance the customer experience” he added.
The panel also delved into the promising role of LED lighting in saving energy and heat management. Experts opined that LED is the future of lighting, whereas lighting control also is an important factor. However, the rapid improvement in efficiency and availability of cheap LED brands remains a challenge for retailers in adopting LED systems. Commenting on the evolution of LED technology, Olav said that LED efficiency is expected to develop to 250 Lumens per watt in another year.
Concluding the discussions Mark Vowles, Director of Nulty+, who moderated the session said that collaborative effort from lighting manufacturers, solution providers, and the retailers will help in delivering best solutions that fit the retailer’s budget and provide added value and better customer experience for shoppers.
The panel also included Sanjay Mahapadi, Deputy General Manager- Properties & Facilities, Landmark Group and Sherief Hussein, Construction Management Head, Magrabi Retail.
About Smart Stores Expo
Smart Stores Expo is a must-attend event for retailers, marketers, visual merchandisers, architects, shop fitters who find to find new ideas or suppliers, to benchmark their existing practices or to learn what lies ahead from leading trendsetters. For more information about Smart Stores Expo, please visit http://smartstoresexpo.com/smartstore/