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Journal cover: International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Online from: 1973

Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management

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Who controls store atmosphere customization in electronic retailing?

Document Information:
Title:Who controls store atmosphere customization in electronic retailing?
Author(s):Adam P. Vrechopoulos, (ELTRUN IMES (Interactive Marketing and Electronic Services) Research Group, Department of Management Science and Technology, Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, Greece)
Citation:Adam P. Vrechopoulos, (2010) "Who controls store atmosphere customization in electronic retailing?", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 38 Iss: 7, pp.518 - 537
Keywords:Consumer behaviour, Electronic commerce, Internet shopping, Mass customization, Store ambience
Article type:Viewpoint
DOI:10.1108/09590551011052115 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The author would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers and the Editor for their invaluable comments during the multiple revision rounds.

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.

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