Purpose – Technology now allows e‐tailers to customize online store atmosphere at the individual level, with the customization controlled and executed by either the retailers or the customers, or both. Since in conventional retailing the manipulation of store atmosphere is controlled mainly by retailers (e.g. store layout, product display techniques, store theatrics, etc.), the potential for mass customization with consumer involvement radically changes the way research regarding online store atmosphere must be approached. Positioned in the e‐tailing research area, the purpose of this paper is to summarize the research challenges presented by virtual store atmosphere customization and control and to formulate specific research propositions. Design/methodology/approach – This viewpoint paper employs an interdisciplinary “desk‐research” approach. It elaborates on the emerging research challenges of customizing store atmosphere in electronic retailing highlighting the differences that exist among the conventional and the virtual retail channels. It then justifies the interdisciplinary nature of store atmosphere studies, investigates the customization challenges available online and formulates specific research questions and direct research propositions. Findings – E‐tailing store atmosphere customization capabilities at the individual level, revolutionizes the established relevant theory from conventional retailing. However, the control of the customization process is a quite complex issue and should be treated as that, by e‐tailers. Research limitations/implications – The paper sets the research agenda and builds avenues for further research. Practical implications – The paper provides direct managerial implications for effectively placing online store atmosphere customization in the hands of the consumer‐user. Originality/value – The paper clearly justifies why current online store atmosphere studies should be adapted to the mass customization challenge applicable online. Similarly, it demonstrates the promising role that consumer control could potentially play on this topic.
International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 8, 2010
Keywords: Store ambience; Electronic commerce; Internet shopping; Mass customization; Consumer behaviour
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