Retailers saw the possibilities in manufactured lighting to illuminate interiors from the moment that bulbs became available. By 1901, early adopters were even lighting their outdoor signs.
As the range of bulb types, colors, intensities, and color temperatures expanded, retailers learned to influence buyer behavior with various lighting strategies. In recent years, LED (light-emitting diode) technology has found a place within each type of retail application. And why not? Prices are dropping, they’re cheaper to operate, offer long bulb life, and they’re increasingly versatile in drawing attention and matching very specific needs for:
Accent lighting. Lights often lead you from place to place, either dramatically or subtly, to support a store’s aesthetics or highlight something special. Whether used for backlighting or highlighting, accent lighting showcases what’s important: Look at me.
Task lighting. Let’s face it, you need good visibility at checkout and other functional areas. Appropriate task lighting does the job in a way that builds on the customer experience.
Decorative lighting. With the hard work of accent and task lighting done, you can have some fun. Decorative lighting does double duty, providing illumination while contributing to the memorable décor.
Ambient lighting. The final consideration is often filling in the gaps – the critical use of general lighting that pulls it all together without calling attention to itself.
LEDs: A New Stimulant
In the past few years, a different type of lighting has gained a spot in retailers’ toolkits. It appeals to yet another way of providing you with a unique, stimulating shopping experience:
Digital signage. While accent, task, decorative and ambient lighting point toward external products or content, digital signage is both light source and content. Movement and change are inherent. Even interactivity is possible.
You’ve seen them, of course, often as LCDs (flat-panel liquid crystal displays). But according to a recent paper by Prismview and Samsung, “While LCD displays still have their place in retail, the falling price of LEDs has led to fewer LCD sales. Instead, more and more businesses are opting to replace their LCD displays with LED.”
Just how are retailers using this new LED-enabled signage? Here’s more from “Top 2019 Trends in LED Display for Retail”.
Wow Factor. The competition for customers’ attention is increasingly fierce. Digital signs offer an eye-catching option to provide a Wow Factor as they are “incorporated to become a memorable part of both your store and your brand.” Not only do they make sense in terms of cost, but they are available for indoor or outdoor use with easily-configured content.
Exterior Sign Alternative. “Because LED-based signs can be installed to face either inward (toward the store’s interior) or outward (toward the mall or street), it’s possible to use LED technology for exterior-facing signs, lit from inside.” They’re bright enough to project through glass, and don’t require the same permitting as outdoor installations.
Huge Impact. With retail spaces becoming more experiential, bigger screens are no longer confined to stadiums or Times Square. “LED walls, or multiple screens that form a single, unified picture, are set to rule the roost. These walls integrate various LED units to create a single continuous display, amplifying an entire landscape” with bright, sharp, splashy content.
Commanding Content. High-resolution content will be the real driver for impacting customer behavior. “High-end, large-scale visual content can showcase your brand’s unique voice and tone, casting an unforgettable experience for thousands.” That content may take many forms: advertisements, promotions, information, wayfinding, demonstrations, etc. – or different content based on different times of the day.
Interactivity. “Kiosks that talk. Digital shopping lists. Touch-sensor screens.” Digital signage offers retailers a way to “create the kind of personalized experience customers get online.” As consumers become willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized recommendations and deals, interactivity makes new types of customer engagement possible.
LEDs: A World of Possibilities
Parking Lots and Exterior Signs. We should mention also that LED conversions have transformed the customer experience in parking lots. Besides the financial benefits for retailers, LED lights provide a fresher, brighter, safer-feeling environment for visiting shoppers. LEDs have also proven to be a cost-effective winner for retailers in illuminating exterior signage.
Lighting continues to serve many of the same purposes for retailers as it did in the early years. With LED technology, retailers have gained an option that is both cost-effective and opens up new opportunities for digital and traditional signage to drive sales.