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‘Store illumination is making an exciting transition’

By Retail4Growth Bureau | December 29, 2023

A key component of the evolution that has been happening in the retail and shopping experiential space is store lighting, which is in fact going through its own exciting phase of transformation, says Manoj Boopathy, Director – Planning & Projects at leading retail lighting solutions company Gardler, in this exclusive column for Retail4Growth on ‘2024: What’s in Store?’ 

One thing that has changed much more emphatically than shopping behavior, platforms, and spends by the Indian consumers in recent years is the distinct way in which the shopping ambience or experience has evolved across markets, formats, and brands.  

Manoj Boopathy, Director – Planning & Projects

Of all the changes that have slowly but significantly crept into the stores – whether it is the manner in which merchandise is placed, or its assortment, or the automation that supports making the choices easier - it is the store illumination - a subtle, and yet extremely powerful factor - that is more representative of the transition. Lighting is the most dominant feature that evokes the right feeling, mood and desire for indulgent shopping.  

The evolution of store lighting itself

When LEDs replaced the over-century old incandescent lamps, and the brief phase of fluorescent lamps, it paved the way for imagination, creativity, innovation in not only the application design of lighting in a store, but also in the form, size, type, and style of the luminaires/fixtures that exist today. It has in fact redefined the store environment in a manner beyond a simple explanation. 

Let us now look at some of the changing trends in store lighting and what lies ahead in 2024..It starts right from the store front: Rightfully so and there has been a growing focus by architects, store project teams, and lighting brands on this aspect, which is only likely to get stronger in the years ahead.  Multi-dimensional, linear, customized shapes, color, flexibility of the fixtures are edging out the conventional flood lights, wall washers or a high-intensity lighting at the doorway. The PCB-based lighting enables a variety of designs around various spaces on the façade – be it decorative patterns over the length, width and height of the frontal elevation, show window, sign boards or just any space and element on the frontage. The enormous choices of such adaptable fixtures are now possible through flexible LED strips, slim profiles, Flex, and with programmable, controllable drivers. No wonder, brands across formats are rapidly paying attention to this trend in façade lighting.

Decorative lighting gives the extra edge: Clearly, the era of plain downlighters and wall washers are being replaced by creatively-designed, customized shapes and sizes of linear and profile-based lighting.  Be it lifestyle, fashion or automobile showrooms, the most prominent lighting is now through innovative patterns, sizes and forms of lighting. Take, for example, the magnificent back-lit frame-based stretch ceiling fixture that presents the automobiles spectacularly. This used to be a cluster of track spots earlier. Or take the case of long, seamless profile-based slim fixtures that render the entire alleys and general merchandise areas in a fashion store, that were being illuminated by downlighters with certain limitations on the light spread until now. Also, the emphasis does not stop with the general merchandise areas but extends to even the display racks, shelves or trial rooms in a fashion store, which are equally given importance in terms of lighting. The considerable number of options available today in the Linear flex, slender aluminum profiles, LED PCBs, add that extra bit of aesthetics, charm and magic to the overall space, appeal and ambience.  The recent growth seen towards this trend is an indicator of further consolidation in the days ahead.

Advancement in magnetic tracksThe trend of using magnetic tracks for a variety of spaces and surfaces is catching up due to its versatility in terms of adapting to different patterns, applications and types of fixtures. Though it is a bit more expensive than the regular power tracks, advantages and convenience it offers is undeniable. The usage of magnetic tracks is most likely to see a surge in the coming days.

 Automation is going to be a key factorMoving from a simple sensor-based on-off, the automation in lighting today offers several advantages in programming, controlling, inter-operability, and better management of overall lighting that can change the color spectrum, intensity, show window concepts, trial-room atmosphere, etc. Similarly, the vast technological improvements in LEDs and Drivers help reach farther in core lighting performance standards, reliability and impact.

Gardler logo Meanwhile, Artificial Intelligence in lighting control systems is ushering in a new level of convenience and comfort, by enabling spaces to learn and adapt different behavioral patterns and usage types. It may not be too long before intelligent lighting technologies would offer the combined benefits of efficiency, sustainability, and adaptability in a store environment.

With all right notes in the lighting field, from innovations, technology, product and application designs from the supply side, to concepts, imagination, and adaptation from the client’s end, it is going to be a spectacular experience for shoppers in the days ahead. Store illumination is truly making an exciting transition.

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