Merchandising Tour: Let there be light!

Good lighting is an essential part of any store. SNEWS merchandising editor and tour guide Sharon Leicham points out lighting do’s and don’ts from Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in this fifth article installment from the show's Merchandising Tours.
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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 to showcase their wares for their customers. While that’s fine for them, it is not ideal for specialty stores that carry higher-end products with specialty functions and stories to tell. What’s needed is a combination of different lighting types -- a light source to provide ambient light in combination with spots, halogens or low voltage to highlight displays and merchandise. The mix of strategically placed low-voltage incandescent and compact high-intensity lamps can produce dramatic effects.

While working on the Merchandising Tours at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2010, we noticed that a majority of exhibitors have caught on to the importance of good lighting to attract show attendees to their booths. Some, however, relied on the color-distorting exhibit hall lighting only and that was a mistake. Their products looked washed out and unattractive -- and as a result, there was a noticeable lack of visitors to their booths.

One company that was doing lighting right was Thorlo. It had great lighting throughout and used a strip of low-voltage lamps to light an aisle display featuring a collection of socks. (It was on the mannequin feet, which was also another good idea.) The product color popped and was an enticing introduction to the remainder of the Thorlo products found in the booth. The company was selling products with lots of color and it was important that the products’ color rendition was correct.

Making the light level brighter on the products than on their surroundings gave the SmartWool aisle display of sweaters and hats a more dramatic look while not changing the color of the products on display.

The use of simple rope lighting in the Brewshoes booth was subtle but effective in attracting attention to the footwear on the shelves. Rope lighting can be found at home improvement stores. It’s inexpensive and has a multitude of uses. It works well in display cases and can be wrapped around posts or mannequins for a fun twist.

Colored lighting can be an effective way to attract attention and is great to use to wash a wall or in the background of a window display. It is not, however, good to use in displays as it tends to change the color of the merchandise. Check out the blue light washing a collection of Sorel boots. It’s hard to tell their true colors.

Now compare the “blue” display to the one next to it in which another Sorel boot collection is highlighted by white light. Big difference. While the blue light is eye catching, the products to the right show their true colors.

We’re almost to the end of our Merchandising Tours for the winter season. The last article will showcase various display methods and techniques we found in multiple exhibits, which can be utilized in shops easily and effectively.

Would you like to join Sharon Leicham, author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and merchandising editor for SNEWS®, during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 for the third Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tour program, co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer and SNEWS. Currently, we are planning one hour-long merchandising tour of select exhibitor booths and displays designed for retailers and one hour-long merchandising tour focused on the needs of exhibitors. Email merchandisingtour@snewsnet.com to put your name on a contact list for more information and to ensure your name is on the registration list for the next Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tours, Summer Market 2010 -- spaces are limited.

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