Lighting in fashion retail - An Interview with Sven Manten & Peter ‘t Hoen


What are some of the most important considerations for brands in this changing world of retail? How does a brick and mortar store ensure a seamless customer journey? We were curious to know the answers to these questions and more, so we reached out to the experts at Jos de Vries, an international agency specializing in retail strategy, design and branding. Sven Manten, Business Development Manager, and Peter ‘t Hoen, Creative Director, answer our many questions and explain why the store is still an important stop on the customer journey and why lighting plays an important role.
How do you view the role of lighting in fashion retail? How have you seen it develop over the years? Is it playing a more or less important role in the overall design for shops? Have you heard specific feedback from your clients about the role lighting is playing now in their stores?

The total brand experience is becoming more important, especially in brick and mortar, because that’s where you can make the difference. This counts even more for fashion because it concerns a highly emotional driven purchase. Therefore you will see more theatrical experiences in-store. to create the necessary drama. Next to this it is easy to highlight products, use light for navigation, etc.

Regarding a specific aspect of lighting in stores – the shop window - in your opinion, how important is the shop window and how do you treat it within the overall lighting scheme of the store? What are the three key elements that are essential for a strong shop window?

The shop window is the first contact to create interest and mood around the brands and the products and has to lure the passerby into the store or at least make him more aware. The shopping window is a part of the store, which should be treated equally important within your lighting scheme. Key elements for a strong shop window are:

Well lit, especially during the dark days, do not clutter, have a story to tell and ensure a continuous change of themes to ensure inspiration and surprise.
What are the various lighting design strategies to help stores compete with the popularity of online shopping? Does the dressing room play a part? If so, how do you see lighting trends in the dressing room enhancing the customer experience in a store? Where do you see this heading in the future? (for example, more interactivity, computer in the mirror, avatars to try on clothes, lighting “scenes”?)

Lighting strategies are used to make the in store experience as efficient as possible or fulfill the need for fun and inspiration. When you think about efficiency you’re talking about highlighting products at the right moment and navigating the customer more conveniently, just to name a few. On the other hand it is about bringing that fun and inspiration outdoors and indoors. Lighting can bring ultimate experience on the facade of the building and provide drama in-store to create atmosphere around the products and the brands.

The dressing room plays a very important role. This is the moment the purchase decision is made; in front of the mirror. The lighting here is extremely important because it masks the irregularities and highlights the fit, fabric, and color. Changing the light in the dressing room to reflect an environment that may change daily provides the customer with a complete experience. Interactive mirrors can help show alternative products. In the future, the interactive mirrors will know better who you are and provides you with styling advice so you have your personal advisor.
You talk a lot about the customer journey and how it is changing – it is not just the store any more, but what customers see online, in social media, on TV – and that the role of the brick and mortar store is changing. How do you see light having an impact on the changing role of the store? Can light help ensure a seamless customer journey and if so, how?

Online shopping is still small, but will increase of course. Brick and mortar stores are here to stay. As a retailer you should embrace the combination of both. Smart lighting can play an important role when it comes to integrating online in store. Smart lighting can bring a personalized seamless experience by pushing personalized offers/info via your cellphone and next to that navigate you to the store providing a customized route based on your personal preferences.

How do you view data collection via lighting? Is this an essential marketing tool? How do you see this growing in the future? Because personalization is becoming essential in retail, can data help create a unique customer experience and should this be a focus for stores/brands?

Of course data is key, but the challenge is to figure out what to do with it. How do you draw the right conclusions and personalize relevant information? Pairing beacon technology in lighting systems seems to be the obvious choice because the system covers the whole store and the electricity is already there. Personalization means ‘fit for the individual’. So if a retailer is able to tailor a service or a product especially for you, they can create a brand story appealing to your preferred interests, acting according to your values and goals – all combining in a seamless customer journey. With this type of personal tailoring you will love to become ‘a loyal member’ – this is something that will really help brands.

Can you talk about location based services, specifically, and how this will affect the customer journey? Is this a part of a personalized customer journey?

Location based services will accommodate dynamic personalized pricing for example. This means you don’t need promotion aisles anymore. You can monitor traffic patterns and find dead areas, so you can change the layout effectively. Next to that it becomes irrelevant to show everything, just provide the information on your cellphone, which decreases the retailers need for store space.
What’s the worst mistake a store can make when choosing their lighting?

Go for price, or use less light to save money.

What’s the biggest “open secret” about retail design that consumers aren’t aware of?

Light masks all the irregularities.
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