‘Clients will invest in lighting when they feel the competitive pressure to drive sales’
By N Jayalakshmi | May 30, 2023
The ‘Spotlight’ is back on lighting as Sanjay Gulati - Principal/ Managing Director, and Neelima Ronanki - Studio Director, Gensler; share their insights with Retail4Growth on what it takes to align lighting with the desired experiential quotient of retail space, in this conversation presented in association with Gardler.
What comes to your mind in the context of retail lighting? Why is it important and what are its key aspects?
Lighting is a science and there are many aspects to it, whether we talk about the technical aspects or aesthetics. Today, lighting is an integral part of any retail space. It plays a significant role in enhancing the overall in-store customer experience - from merchandise presentation to digital displays and way finding signage.
Lighting can complete a space, adding character, personality and emotional response. In terms of the use of lighting, it depends on the product and store category. Gensler, a world-leading architecture and design firm, has partnered with notable clients to design solutions that would allow them the opportunity to promote their diverse marketing strategies and connect with the employees and communities with ease and flexibility.
Most store categories rely on flat lighting, but often a strategic play of light can work wonders, invoking a particular mood in the customer – a mood that raises the appeal of the merchandise. An apt example would be garments – different kinds of garments need the respective lighting to enhance their unique selling points. Lighting for party wear would likely differ from that of day wear. Additionally, trial-room lighting would be a totally different ballgame. Today’s technology has enabled smart lighting for trial rooms wherein a customer can choose corresponding light settings for different looks (party, work, casual and so on).
What is the most important factor in getting store lighting right?
Like any other specialty service, a great deal of thought and study goes into achieving the right impact or outcome, which means you would need a specialist’s insights. Be it lighting fixtures, colour rendering, or any other factor, it is advisable to hire a consultant who understands the nuances of store lighting. The best results are possible only when you prioritize the end-customer experience and the store’s efficiency in terms of performance and power consumption.
Do you feel that clients very often don’t understand these and are reluctant to spend on lighting in their stores?
The fact is that companies will realise the need to invest in lighting once they feel the competitive pressure to drive sales. Store rentals are consistently on the rise; to justify the cost, it is imperative for store owners to create an impactful and unforgettable experience from the get-go – and for that, they need a lighting specialist. With a specialist onboard, one can achieve value creation from the store experience, which in turn can drive sales, giving long-term returns on their real estate. Of course, this also depends on the trust clients place in their designers and the assurance that any increase in cost can be justified. For example, exorbitant spending is never a necessity; the idea is to invest where it adds value and with a purpose, be it for aesthetics, functionality or sustainability. The clients who seek us out, understand this.
How much of the success in lighting depends on suppliers?
Suppliers deliver based on the specifications we provide. It is worth mentioning, however, that the Indian lighting industry has improved exponentially. Today, there are many manufacturers in India who can manufacture to any specification. That being said, there are some light fixtures that still need to be imported. Most of the time, our lighting consultants are able to source the requirement locally.
If you had to share a checklist for the benefit of a retail brand when it comes to planning their store lighting what would it be?
We’d say start with strategy, understand customer demographics and the kind of experience that they are looking for. This means understanding everything about them - how they want to be greeted when they enter the store, how they want to experience products, how they want to use the trial rooms, how much time they are looking to spend in the store, and so on. Based on this information, you can tailor the ideal mood and experience. Ultimately, it is about creating a frictionless experience for the customer, and lighting is an essential part of it.
Home page image: Samsung Opera House, Bangalore. Picture Courtesy: Gensler
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