Merchandising Tour: Get lit!

The lighting industry has trained its spot on LED, but myths about the technology’s limitations remain. SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright provides an update on the latest LEDs available today to retailers.

Halogen, incandescent, fluorescent, LED: Such words can sound like a foreign language to a new store owner or an established retailer looking to upgrade their space. The lighting industry has trained its spot on LED, or light emitting diode, but myths about the technology’s limitations linger in the wider world. We thought we’d give you an update on what’s available in LED today.


We recently spent some time with Environmental Lights, a leading source for sustainable, energy-efficient LED lighting products, to get some illumination on the subject.

The investment

While LED lighting often presents greater upfront costs, the savings of installing it don’t take long to realize. Every visual merchandiser or store manager knows well the manpower required to change a bulb or two, and because of that might opt to replace all of them at once, flickering or not, for the sake of efficiency and to avoid dragging out the big rig ladder again. In addition, LED is cool to the touch. While all light sources generate heat, LED’s relatively low heat emissions ensure stores’ energy bills drop immediately and substantially following a retrofit.

With no glass filament to protect, storage and transportation is a far less delicate matter, which also benefits store owners and trade show folks. LED bulbs can last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescents.

The fit

“Lighting is the final touch to a store, the final detail,” Stacy Brown, Environmental Lights’ marketing director, said. “The last thing you want is lighting that makes your diamonds look yellow versus white.” She noted that many retailers put lighting too low on their priority list or neglect it altogether.


LED bulbs can fit into any standard lighting fixture, and Environmental Lights works with retailers and contractors to help them determine the right replacement options. If you aren’t sure which LED product will replace your fluorescents or halogen track lighting, just ask.

Color and temperature

A common misperception about LED lighting is that the color or temperature of the bulb are static. Not true! While the original LED bulbs cast bluish glow, that old technology has been improved. Today’s LED lighting has color tune-ability. Even better? You can order a sample kit from Environmental Lights to test out the color in your environment.

Versatility and dimming

“The functionality and creative ability with LED lighting can be a huge design element,”

Brown said. Consider the flexibility of light bars or strip lights, which can brighten walls or shelves and thereby decrease the need for heavy-duty overhead lighting. Lighting then can be layered to produce the most efficient system, with direct lighting where it’s needed most. Environmental Lights launched its High CRI LED strip light at Global Shop 2012. It has a color rendering index or CRI over 80. Such a high CRI is not found in most LED strips, which measures color accuracy on a scale of 0-100. A higher rating provides greater illumination and helps consumers correctly identify colors

Dimming is another option in LED technology that was not available initially, but is now.

The environment

In addition to providing tax breaks for switching to efficient lighting, many local areas reimburse businesses for changing to more energy-efficient lighting or provide incentives for retrofitting. So if you’re thinking of making a lighting change, contact your local utility or Chamber of Commerce. You might find that even if you are leasing space, the change pays for itself between such an incentive and energy savings, not to mention the sales growth that a well-lit store can generate.

SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright

is the founder of Merchandising Matters,

which provides
visual merchandising and

marketing support to the outdoor retail industry.

Reach her via email at

with questions, ideas and suggestions.



Merchandising Tour: Let there be light!

Good lighting is an essential part of any store. Of course, it helps customers see better, but more importantly, it enhances the merchandise and displays, wakes up the store and adds color freshness. Some stores, primarily discounters, use high levels of overall, even lighting more


Merchandising Tour: Setting the story scene

Wall fixtures, props, mannequins, signage and product packaging are more than a mere backdrop to fantastic merchandise in any retail market. Each of these items should reflect brand messaging, or one risks a confusing consumer experience. Think of choosing fixtures as setting a more


All aboard for Winter Market Merchandising Tours!

It’s hard to believe, but in just a few short weeks the outdoor community once again will gather at the Salt Palace for Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. At OR, innovation is a guarantee in product manufacturing, booth design and visual merchandising. Every show has at least one more


Merchandising Tour: Store environment that invites smiles

Moosejaw could never be accused of taking itself too seriously — except when it comes to gear, of course. In fact, we’re guessing that it would be impossible to hang out in the retail environment without smiling. Boulder, Colo. now has a brick-and-mortar Moosejaw, and from more


Merchandising Tour: Conveying an environmental message

Giving back is a positive trend in business, but such goodwill must be authentic to resonate with today’s savvy consumers. Two-year-old United by Blue has an environmental focus on improving our waterways, but the company also designs and manufactures merchandise that stands on more


Merchandising Tour: Signage that elicits personality

We all know retail signage provides direction, information and education, but it’s also one of the first indicators to consumers on what experience to expect beyond the storefront doors. The message is in every detail — colors, font, materials used, placement, frame or hanging more


Merchandising Tour: Signage is all about the details

Experienced visual merchandisers and trade show booth designers know that for a brand’s message to be communicated seamlessly, all design elements need to work together. Otherwise, the story becomes hopelessly diluted. Standing out amidst visual noise at trade shows like Outdoor more


Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Merchandising Tours

Getting a chance to walk the floor at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, never mind finding time to dive deep on details of a particular booth, is challenging for many ORSM attendees. But the show is full of merchandising excitement, and a key benefit of being on the ground in Salt more


Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tours: Ready, set, go!

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market is just a few weeks away, and while we are all knee- or neck-deep in the holiday season, it’s time to get excited about the many ways you can get your creative groove on at the show. OR is less than two months from now, and it’s time for me to more