When it comes to success in retail, some things are non-negotiable. Fair prices, high quality products and a focus on customer service all go hand in hand with success as a retailer, whether you’re a big-box chain or a small, independent business.
One other non-negotiable aspect of retail success that businesses are increasingly paying attention to is in-store comfort. Of particular importance in this category is natural light, which a growing number of brands are prioritizing.
We’ve covered the importance of natural light in retail before, albeit in the context of big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. Beyond the big-box retail industry, a growing number of smaller retailers are also embracing natural light.
In this blog post, we’ll look at the importance of creating a comfortable shopping environment as a retailer. We’ll also look at how natural light can play a massive role in your store’s comfort level, your total sales and even staff performance.
Natural light and customer comfort
Natural lighting is closely linked to human comfort. The higher the percentage of light in your building that comes from the sun – instead of from artificial lighting – the more comfortable your customers and staff will be.
Increasing natural light is one of the top principles of green design. Think of it as designing for humans rather than designing simply to get a job done. When your retail space is designed with people in mind, they’ll feel more comfortable.
Autodesk recently covered the various ways in which natural light increases the comfort level of people in their Sustainability Workshop. In short, human comfort comes down to four different natural comfort factors:
The first is thermal comfort. The second is visual comfort. The third is air quality, and the final factor is acoustic comfort. Although daylighting doesn’t quite satisfy the first two, it does provide both thermal and visual comfort for shoppers.
Shoppers that feel comfortable in your store are more likely to spend a significant amount of time browsing your product inventory. They’re also more likely to talk with your staff, make a purchase or return to your store in the future.
Natural light and retail sales
As well as increasing customer comfort, natural light has been linked to higher sales in a variety of retail settings. In the 1990s, Wal-Mart studied the serious correlation between natural light and sales, with interesting results.
Their experiment involved placing certain products in naturally lit and artificially lit areas, then tracking the sales based on location. The same products sold far better in naturally lit areas than they did in artificially lit ones, even when other factors were identical and unchanged.
This is because, as we mentioned above, customers generally feel more comfortable and less anxious in naturally lit environments. Since they’re more relaxed, they feel less anxious about making a purchase, prompting a greater sales rate.
5 tips for creating a comfortable retail environment
Creating a comfortable environment in your retail store isn’t difficult, nor does it need to be expensive. In fact, a small investment in energy efficiency and natural light can pay off hugely when you invest in the right types of natural lighting.
Do you want to create a more comfortable, sales-focused retail environment for your retail outlet? Apply these five simple principles to reduce customer anxiety, encourage return customers and boost sales:
- Install skylights throughout your retail store (or in a small store, use large windows and glass doors) to evenly spread light throughout your shopping environment and keep customers comfortable.
- Keep your store at a consistent temperature and make sure there’s adequate ventilation. Thermal comfort is one of the four essential comfort factors, and it’s important not to ignore it.
- Place your top-selling or highest-margin products in areas that are lit using natural light. Products placed in naturally lit areas typically outsell those in areas lit using artificial lighting.
- Make sure your entranceways, major pathways and other key foot traffic areas are well lit, preferably by skylights. Clearly lit pathways encourage shoppers to walk through your store and view a range of products.
- Keep checkout counters and information desks well lit using natural light, particularly sales counters. Customers are more likely to interact with your sales staff in naturally lit, comfortable areas.