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Why does CRI matter in retail?


CRI or Color Rendering Index is a scale on which the color information provided by various light sources are measured. A high color rendering allows the surroundings to be seen with more clarity, whereas a low color rendering does the opposite. Simply put, CRI measures the ability of a light source to showcase the colors with accuracy. The higher the CRI, the better it is, with daylight having a CRI rating of 100. Using lighting with high CRI in retail is beneficial due to multiple reasons.

1. It attracts customers

Customers tend to choose products that look more attractive, be it groceries or clothing. Higher CRI lamps make products look much better compared to low CRI lamps as they are able to bring out the colors and details of the products more. A study which asked customers and designers to choose shoes from three identical displays lit with differing CRI lights found that customers preferred the shoes under the higher CRI lamp, and rated the lower CRI lamps the worst. As low CRI lighting makes the products look dull, it does not catch the attention of the shoppers and makes them less likely to purchase it.

2. It makes the retail design look good

The design of the store is important to the customer experience and their perception of the brand. The effort that goes into designing a store that suits the brand, customers and products are often made ineffective with the use of low CRI lighting. Low CRI rated lights make colors seem identical, and detailing and shadows less noticeable. Lamps with excellent CRI Ratings like Soraa lighting with a rating of 95 are great choices for retail design. They bring out the details of the store design and allow design elements like furniture and patterns to look sharp and clear.

3. It helps customers differentiate

Stores with products in similar colors and designs see great benefits to using lighting with CRI ratings over 90. Better color rendering allows customers to differentiate between products easily. For instance, if there is a sweater that is maroon and another that is dark red, the customer will be able to differentiate between them easily. This also helps with similar colored detailing, small details that vary between products etc. The lighting on the products produce sharper colors and shadows allowing even small differences to be more easily noticeable.

4. It reduces the chance of misjudging colors

Sometimes, customers purchase an item in a store only to realise it looks different in the daylight. This leads to the product being returned to the store. This can be avoided by using lighting that shows the product colors correctly. With products like makeup where finding the right color match is essential, misjudging colors can lead to multiple problems. Low CRI lighting can make skin tones and product colors appear different, leading to wrong color matches. While this may still lead to a sale, they are often returned after the products are tried on in natural lighting. As most makeup items that are returned end up being discarded, this affects brands and retail outlets negatively in the long run.

5. It looks natural

As lamps with higher CRI ratings are closest to natural light, they make the products look more natural and realistic. Supermarkets, grocery stores and gardening stores using lamps with better color rendering have products that look fresher with rich and crisp colors. Stores use this to their advantage to light up produce and meats, as customers tend to gravitate towards products with better coloring. Produce under low CRI can look dull and stale regardless of its actual quality. High CRI lighting is useful to bring out the freshness and quality of these products inside stores. Plants also look healthier with these lighting, making them an excellent choice for gardening stores.

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