Indoor Design  / Retail

Designing shop lighting: what are the best strategies?

Posted On 19 February 2020

Knowing how to illuminate a shop well means helping the sales process: the products will look different depending on how you set up the lighting, which affects the success or failure of sales.

This aspect is very often underestimated, and a poorly lit shop certainly does not encourage you to come in and have a look around. Alternatively, if the shop window is well lit and invites you to enter, once inside, lighting plays a fundamental role in giving you the desire to continue looking at the products and buy them.

In a supermarket or shopping center, everything is illuminated correctly, leaving nothing to chance, neither too much nor too little.

The study of the lighting of these structures already gives you the idea of how much designing the right lighting is fundamental for the success of a business.

Your client can sell the best product in their sector, but if your project does not include a strategic study of the shop lighting, this will push customers towards its competitors who may offer a lower quality product. Still, they can display the product well through the right lighting.

When you tackle a shop’s lighting project, you have to think in terms of lighting fixtures, i.e., the various types of lamps that you will need to illuminate the different parts of the shop in a specific way.

First, you need to know how many watts and lumens are needed for the specific case and what is the most suitable color rendering index, linked to the use of LEDs.


Optimize the design of a lighting system in 8 simple steps


How to identify the ideal watts and the right color rendering for a shop

Watts is the unit of measurement that indicates the power of a lighting fixture: this measurement will tell you what the consumption of the lamp you want to install is.

Lumens, on the other hand, represent the unit of measurement of the luminous flux; it will tell you exactly how much light a particular lighting fixture will emit in the shop once installed.

Being very technical and specific, these data are often considered too superficial or completely omitted, but they represent valuable information for your project to ensure the success of the lighting system that you will recommend to your client.

You can easily access these data by consulting the technical datasheets of the products themselves. A professional company provides these data in the product datasheet, also indicating the Lux, a unit of measurement that indicates how many lumens a luminous body can express in a specific area of the space.

To do a good job and insert detailed data on the lighting system to be used for the specific shop you need to illuminate in your project, you can simply align yourself with a lighting professional or lighting engineer. They will be able to calculate exactly how many lumens and watts are needed to illuminate one space rather than another so that you can more consciously choose those that are right for you.

The color rendering, which is usually indicated with the abbreviation CRI, is data that indicates how much that specific light source will truly be able to express the colors, always taking into consideration that a color rendering index of 100 is that of the sun. The closer you get to this number, the more realistic the color will be.

Obviously, artificial lamps do not have the same color rendering as sunlight; therefore, very white light can, for example, transform a blue-colored product into violet, thus distorting the real color of that product.

That's why an optimal color rendering is even more important in cases in which the product that your client offers is strictly linked to visual perception.

Having clarified these technical details, let's take a look at the best strategies for designing the lighting in every part of a shop.


Designing shop lighting: what are the best strategies? Settenani Collection

Settenani Collection

The best strategies to illuminate a shop optimally

To strategically illuminate a shop, you need to proceed step by step, that is, you should divide the structure into 3 sections, ordering them according to which section you meet before another: shop window, entrance, interior.

How to illuminate a shop window strategically

A shop window is its real calling card. Therefore, it is no coincidence that a lively shop window, full of lights and colors, will be more likely to attract the gaze and curiosity of passers-by, encouraging them to enter, more than a less attractive shop window.

Here, therefore, the keyword for illuminating a shop window is attractive!

This is the effect that light must give to this space: attracting people to take a look inside the shop window to find out what products your client offers.

The first impression that a visitor has of a shop window will determine whether they will stop and look or pass by casually.

To enhance and make the most of this space, coherent lighting is the best solution: you can illuminate the mannequins using adjustable spotlights or track spotlights so that they can be moved as you wish, depending on how the display is set up.

A shop usually has external windows that display the product for passers-by and internal display windows for potential customers.

It goes without saying that you do not have to illuminate them in the same way. Mainly, the criteria that must guide you are the same, but the main difference is that the external shop window is a space in which the light flows are dispersed due to the presence of the glass of the shop window itself.

This means that the light levels of the external shop window must be higher than the internal ones: never illuminate the shop window generally; focus on the products specifically, to enhance the details and not the generic whole. In this way, lighting takes on a strong communicative power that helps the customer not only understand in advance what type of product they will find inside the store but also the degree of its quality.

As for the internal windows, however, always be careful to keep the lighting levels high, lowering the levels in the common areas.

Always keep in mind that customers do not stay in the same place when they enter your shop. Most of the time, they are interested in a product, and they pick it up and move away from the window to look at it in a different area. Your project must be able to identify these possible areas that the customer will turn to in order to take a different look at the product and make sure that in those spaces, the light and color rendering are of excellent quality.


Designing shop lighting: what are the best strategies? Ululì Ululà

Ululì Ululà

How to illuminate a shop entrance strategically

The shop entrance is another important space that, if well exploited, is capable of affecting the perception of passers-by and transforming them into potential customers.

Together with the external lighting, the entrance represents the real strength of your lighting project for a shop. Through a specific study of the entrance lighting, customers will have a precise idea of the shop’s identity, the product offered and, above all, its quality.

Dedicating a part of the location’s lighting to what those who have not yet entered your client's shop will see, means avoiding that a low level of light near the entrance conditions the thinking of people, even their approach to the shop. For this purpose, you can use LED lights of 150 watts or smaller, depending on the size of the entrance. The important thing is that the light accompanies customers from the external window to the inside of the shop, as if to take them by the hand and guide their attention to the products.


Designing shop lighting: what are the best strategies? Gangster


How to illuminate the interior of a shop strategically

Here, we are inside your client's business; therefore, you must take into consideration the protagonist around which your entire project gravitates or the product that your client offers. This means that, depending on the type of product, you will have to choose adequate lighting to expose it so that it is perceived in the best possible way.

So, to understand which installations to choose and where to place them, you must first understand the product, its features, and how light can make it seductive and attractive.

Each type of product has specific needs that you cannot afford to overlook to create a successful project.

It goes without saying that lighting every store in exactly the same way is like wearing slippers with an evening dress!

Choosing a luminous body for a shop based only on technical characteristics such as watts, lumens, and price, means making an obvious mistake.

The internal lighting of a shop, being related to the type of product, should be designed not so much according to the lumens as to the color rendering. For example, a butchery requires a different color tone from a cosmetics shop, which, in turn, needs a different color tone than a stationery shop or a bookshop. This helps us understand how it changes and how fundamental the choice of color rendering is, depending on the product you sell.

We assume that general lighting is essential to encourage customers’ orientation within the store. A typical mistake in stores is to illuminate the entire indoor exhibition space in the same way. On the contrary, you should play with light and create interesting luminous contrasts.

The most effective way to achieve this is through dimmable LED spotlights, which allow you, through the ad hoc adjustment of each spotlight, to accentuate the light in the points where you have to enhance the product and set good generic lighting for the rest of the space. Or you can use these luminous bodies as accent lighting and use recessed spotlights for general lighting.

A correct and wise combination of lights and shadows, therefore, will help to encourage not only the orientation of potential customers but above all, highlight the products that your client offers and wants to promote.


Designing shop lighting: what are the best strategies? Le Trulle

Le Trulle

The best and worst of a shop's lighting design

Having seen how to illuminate the various spaces of a shop strategically, we are going to summarize and analyze the "best and worst", i.e., the actions that should be taken and the errors to be avoided when designing a shop’s lighting.

The "Best" points

  • The first impression is what matters: shop windows communicate with passers-by, talk to them, arouse their interest, and encourage them to buy, so the way you decide to use light is decisive.
    LED solutions offer you a flexibility that seems to be made on purpose to create scenographic effects to induce passers-by to enter the shop.
  • Intelligently using the lighting of the cash register and the counter can be a strategic distraction element to entertain customers while waiting: carefully illuminate the displays located in the cash register area to attract attention and adequately illuminate the counter to allow staff to work comfortably.
  • The area where the brand is highlighted is undoubtedly the central displays: here, the lighting must allow people to orient themselves easily in the shop and see the products clearly and optimally from the point of view of perception.
  • You can illuminate displays and shelves through the use of ceiling lamps or even lights integrated into the walls. To choose the most suitable lights, remember that it is the correct color temperature that ensures that the products on display are always illuminated optimally.
  • When dealing with the project for a clothing store, the area dedicated to dressing rooms is very important because here the buyer is alone for the first time with the product. Use the right light and reduce the shadow areas to a minimum to make it so that the customer sees the best aesthetic version of themselves in the mirror and feels attractive with your product on. Here, you should also correctly position the lighting fixtures and choose an adequate color temperature through a source that has a high color rendering.


    Designing shop lighting: what are the best strategies? Ginger


The "Worst" points:

Mistakes rarely go unnoticed and very often, in fact, are sources of criticism and negative judgments that invalidate both the purchase and word of mouth between those who have had experiences in that store and those who still haven’t. For this reason, relying on a lighting designer professional is of paramount importance.

In any case, the main mistakes you need to make sure to avoid are:

  • Not providing accent lighting to enhance the products on sale: general lighting that is flat and too uniform could prevent customers from being interested in the products and, as an obvious consequence, from purchasing them. Accent lighting is necessary to enhance products optimally, depending on what your client sells. Therefore, avoid illuminating everything in the same way, but take care to create the right relationship between general light and accent lighting.
  • Failing to use a good level of contrast between light and shadows to attract people to specific points or creating an excessive contrast of lighting: both cases make it difficult to concentrate attention on products.
  • Not respecting the color temperature, which is responsible for the type of image that your client wants to give to their shop. Even the type of product may require a specific color temperature: jewelry, for example, white gold, silver, platinum, and diamonds should be illuminated by a cooler light. In contrast, yellow gold and some gems should be illuminated with warmer tones.
  • Using old and inefficient lighting technologies, which do nothing but produce exactly the opposite effect. They may even cost less in advance, and it is not even said, but over time they will be little long-lived and will create more problems than can be solved, also in terms of energy, materials, and labor.
  • Not taking care of the maintenance of existing lighting, such as replacing and cleaning lighting fixtures, vital factors to keep the attractiveness of the shop alive.


    Designing shop lighting: what are the best strategies? 24 Karati

    24 Karati

Enhance your client’s product through the strategic lighting of their shop

When designing a shop’s lighting, always keep in mind that each space needs specific lighting, which prepares the position of the light points and knows how to take care of every detail to best enhance the products displayed through the choice of the right lamps.

Well-thought-out lighting will ensure that the shop can benefit from greater productivity. The items on sale, highlighted by the light put in the windows, and the internal displays will be perceived to their full potential. In addition, the shop will be clearly visible from the outside, highlighting and capturing the curiosity of passersby.

Having seen the best strategies to better design a shop’s lighting in this article, one last aspect that you must consider is the aesthetic factor of the lamps used, an element that plays a central role in characterizing the shop’s style and further enhancing it.

Taking care of the design of the decorative lamps, in addition to the technical aspects, will help the shop to attract more customer attention, transmitting a feeling of professionalism and great attention to detail through good taste, factors that represent a further way to affirm the personality of your client's shop in a differential way.


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For more information, support, and assistance in choosing the correct lamp models for your decorative lighting project, do not hesitate to contact us at this link. We are at your complete disposal.

Camilla Rossi


Camilla Rossi



Karman, an Italian company, was founded in 2005 in Fossombrone. The company's world moves itself with simplicity towards an original and personal decorative use of lighting in both private surroundings and public spaces.