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Visual merchandising and store atmospherics: An integrated review and future research directions

Authors:
  • University of PR, USA; University of Reading-England; Former Faculty member, Uni of Washington,

Abstract and Figures

Visual merchandising has gained importance in contemporary retail research and practice. Initially considered as an essential element of retail store atmospherics, the scope of visual merchandising has now extended well beyond the usual reference of a visual stimulus. As research on visual merchandising and store atmospherics continues to converge, this systematic literature review aims to identify the research gaps and overlaps to help researchers with directions on formulating original research ideas in this cross-over domain. A framework-based review using Theory, Context, Characteristics, and Methods (TCCM) typology with an integrated analysis of 88 research articles published between 2000 and 2020 was carried out. It was found that visual merchandising as a product-driven display function has been closely related to store atmosphere as a store-wide display function. Hence an integrated framework of research in visual merchandising and store atmospherics becomes imperative to understand their interplay in the evolving scope of traditional and e-tailers' environments. The paper contributes as the first and most comprehensive review of research on visual merchandising with the closely substitutable domain- store atmospherics.
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Journal of Business Research 151 (2022) 397–408
0148-2963/© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Visual merchandising and store atmospherics: An integrated review and
future research directions
Rituparna Basu
a
, Justin Paul
b
,
c
,
1
,
*
, Kandarp Singh
a
a
International Management Institute, Kolkata, India
b
University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR, USA
c
University of Reading Henley Business School, UK
ARTICLE INFO
Keywords:
Visual merchandising
Store atmospherics
Store atmosphere
Structured literature review
TCCM framework
ABSTRACT
Visual merchandising has gained importance in contemporary retail research and practice. Initially considered as
an essential element of retail store atmospherics, the scope of visual merchandising has now extended well
beyond the usual reference of a visual stimulus. As research on visual merchandising and store atmospherics
continues to converge, this systematic literature review aims to identify the research gaps and overlaps to help
researchers with directions on formulating original research ideas in this cross-over domain. A framework-based
review using Theory, Context, Characteristics, and Methods (TCCM) typology with an integrated analysis of 88
research articles published between 2000 and 2020 was carried out. It was found that visual merchandising as a
product-driven display function has been closely related to store atmosphere as a store-wide display function.
Hence an integrated framework of research in visual merchandising and store atmospherics becomes imperative
to understand their interplay in the evolving scope of traditional and e-tailers environments. The paper con-
tributes as the rst and most comprehensive review of research on visual merchandising with the closely sub-
stitutable domain- store atmospherics.
1. Introduction
Visual merchandising has evolved as an important component of the
retail store environment (Wu, Kim, & Koo, 2015). It is regarded as a
critical manifestation of the retail brand (Bailey & Baker, 2014; Mills,
Paul, & Moorman, 1995). Marketing historians suggest that visual
merchandising gained prominence in the 18th century (Laermans, 1993;
Parker, 2003). Attractive public displays of merchandise, from planning
the store window schema with mannequins (Law, Wong, & Yip, 2012) to
the internal arrangement of materials meant for sale (Law et al., 2012)
were seen as useful cues to convert prospects into buyers and promote
sales (Bell & Ternus, 2006; Bitner, 1992; Davies & Ward, 2002; Kotler,
1974; Omar, 1999; Walter & White, 1987). Retailersgrowing need to
transition from the verbal engagementof the sales personnel to a more
subtle form of a sensory experience-based selling environment
prompted the practice of visual merchandising (Parker, 2003). It was
established as a silent selling technique that focused on the strategic
display of merchandise to promote retail sales (Park, Jeon, & Sullivan,
2015). To substantiate the impact of visual merchandising on retail
performance in terms of the positive consumer as well as retail employee
behaviours, researchers postulated the effects of proper placement
(Skandrani, Mouelhi, & Malek, 2011), quality of materials, and the
aesthetic appeal of retail merchandising with favorable results
(Benjamin, 1999; Kerfoot, Davies, & Ward, 2003; Parker, 2003).
In the last century, the rise of department stores further pushed the
need to comprehend the effective role of visual merchandising across
retail categories (Bide, 2018). Particularly, it was widely studied in the
context of apparel and fashion retailing (Ha, Kwon, & Lennon, 2007;
Jang, Baek, & Choo, 2018; Khakimdjanova & Park, 2005; Law et al.,
2012; Lea-Greenwood, 1998; Park et al., 2015; Zibafar et al., 2019).
Nevertheless, retailers in other categories recognised the vital role of
visual merchandising for retail success (Ha et al., 2007; Lea-Greenwood,
1998). Positive effects of visual merchandising on store image (Ha et al.,
2007; Hartman, 1995); customer service expectations, and evaluations
were established (Stanforth & Lennon, 1997). Moreover, its role in
inuencing a shoppers decision to enter a store (Sen, Block, & Chan-
dran, 2002) and explore (Cant & Hefer, 2012) made it an interesting
study topic. Eventually, the scope of visual merchandising practice and
* Corresponding author at: University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR, USA.
E-mail addresses: r.basu@imi-k.edu.in (R. Basu), justin.paul@upr.edu, j.paul@reading.ac.uk (J. Paul), kandarp.singh@imi-k.edu.in (K. Singh).
1
Editor in Chief, International Journal of Consumer studies, Impact Factor 7.1.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Journal of Business Research
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jbusres
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2022.07.019
Received 18 June 2021; Received in revised form 30 June 2022; Accepted 6 July 2022
Journal of Business Research 151 (2022) 397–408
398
research widened (Swanson & Everett, 2000). In the fast-evolving online
retail space, visual merchandising continued to remain relevant with
comparable objectives of attracting customers and converting sales
(Eroglu, Machleit, & Davis, 2003; Ha & Lennon, 2010; Ha et al., 2007).
Despite rising importance, the academic enquiry in visual
merchandising remained fragmented primarily owing to its lack of
functional distinctiveness (Lea-Greenwood, 1998). Sporadic work on
visual merchandising and other related areas within the wider domain of
the retail environment adds to the confusion. Comparable aspects of
store atmosphere or atmospherics as a critical component of the retail
store environment (Berman & Evans, 2001; Zhou & Wong, 2004) and its
similar effects on shopping behavior (Hoffman & Turley, 2002; Sirgy,
Grewal, & Mangleburg, 2000) vis a vis visual merchandising is noted.
However, despite overlaps- the development of visual merchandising as
an independent branch of study became apparent in the post millennium
phase of research (Bell & Ternus, 2006; Pegler & Bliss, 2006; Bhalla &
Anuraag, 2010; Wu et al., 2015. Hence, in the absence of a systematic
review of visual merchandising or that of store atmosphere, there was a
felt need to carry out a literature-based enquiry to uncover the di-
vergences in these seemingly converging domains to avoid further
confusion among researchers. This framework-based review would not
only serve as the rst and comprehensive effort to detail the course of
research in the domain of visual merchandising but also help in
demarcating its scope relative to closely substitutable sub-domains of
the retail environment such as the store atmosphere or atmospherics. We
attempt to systematically summarize the literature published in the rst
twenty years of the current century, to identify issues, gaps, and con-
vergences of ideas in the eld of visual merchandising and its cross over
domains. In congruence with highly cited framework-based review ar-
ticles (Paul & Benito, 2018; Rialp, Rialp, & Knight, 2005; Paul & Rosado-
Serrano, 2019), the authors considered a set of 88 articles published in
impactful journals to provide directions for research. The present article
seeks to provide insights around the following four research questions:
RQ1. Does visual merchandising research by itself qualify as a
legitimate eld of independent study?
RQ2. What are the overlapping areas of research in visual
merchandising with that in closely substitutable domains of store
atmospherics and others?
RQ3. What are the research gaps in the area of visual merchandising
relative to research in closely substitutable domains of store atmo-
spherics and others?
RQ4. What kind of theories, constructs, and methods should be used
in future research studies in this area?
Hereafter, this review is structured as follows. In order to address
RQ1 and RQ2, Section 2 presents the theoretical underpinnings of visual
merchandising as a concept, and its overlapping dimensions with store
atmosphere/ atmospherics are discussed. In Section 3, we elaborate on
the review methodology used. Section 4 presents a comprehensive
overview of research in the area of visual merchandising and its sub-
stitutable domains. Section 5 gives an integrated summary of the review
ndings using the Theory, Context, Characteristics, and Methods
(TCCM) framework to address RQ3. Section 6 focuses on RQ4 to provide
directions for future research mapped with the ndings discussed in the
previous section following the TCCM framework. Finally, Section 7 is
used to provide a summary of the paper highlighting the limitations.
2. Theoretical underpinnings
Prior studies reveal that visual merchandising was synonymously
used with terms such as store atmospherics (Mills et al., 1995), store
atmosphere (Wu et al., 2015), store layout (Berman & Evans, 2001), etc.
In terms of the denitions (as given in Tables 1 and 2), their boundaries
turned fuzzier with time. Visual merchandising, dened as product
presentation that communicates product concepts with customers in
order to optimize product sales and prots (Pegler, 2001, p.13),
continued to evolve. Starting with the idea of effective presentation and
display of merchandise (Bhalla & Anuraag, 2010; Mills, Paul, and
Moorman, 1995), it stretched further to include a wide variety of pro-
motional materials, signage, and even the oor presentation space (Mills
et al., 1995; Swanson & Everett, 2000). Some even dened it as the
overall store design and environment (McGoldrick, 1990) that is quite
similar to the denition of store atmosphere or atmospherics (Berman &
Evans, 2001; Sirgy et al., 2000; Zhou & Wong, 2004). Nevertheless, both
were equally identied as a critical tool to build a positive store image
for the ultimate aim of garnering retail sales and customer satisfaction
(Bell & Ternus, 2006; Zhou & Wong, 2004).
Table 1
Visual Merchandising Denitions: Evolution.
Author (Year) Denitions
McGoldrick (1990) Visual merchandising is one of the visible elements of
positioning strategy; it results from a conceptual
approach to store design and merchandise display.
Mills, Paul, and
Moorman (1995)
It is the presentation of a store/brand and its merchandise
to the customer through the teamwork of the stores
advertising, display, special events, fashion coordination,
and merchandising departments to sell the goods and
services offered by the store.
Bell and Ternus (2006) The process of promoting the sale of products by
producing mental images that urge potential customers to
make purchases.
Pegler and Bliss (2006) Visual merchandising is an art of product presentation
that communicates product concepts with customers to
optimize product sales and prots.
Diamond and Diamond
(2007)
Visual merchandising (VMD) is the strategic presentation
of a company and its products to attract consumers and
facilitate purchasing.
Bhalla and Anuraag
(2010)
The presentation of any merchandise at its best (i) color
coordinated (synchronized color); (ii) accessorized
(related products/ props) and (iii) self-explanatory
(descriptive/ illustrative).
Bailey and Baker (2014) Visual merchandising is a process that extends from
concept to completion and whose purpose is to create a
clear brand identity, maintain its values, attract the
customer into the commercial space and hold customers
attention for a longer time.
Wu et al. (2015) The activity or process of presenting and displaying
merchandise combining the effective design of
environments and spaces
Table 2
Atmospherics/ Store Atmosphere Denitions.
Author (Year) Denition
Kotler (1974) The conscious design of the store space in a way to
generate specic inuences on its clients or
shoppers
Eroglu and Machleit (1989);
Hoffman and Turley (2002)
The store atmosphere is all the physical and non-
physical elements of the store that could affect the
shoppers behavior toward the retailer
Sirgy et al. (2000) Atmospheric is an environment inside a store (e.
g., color, lighting, decoration, displays) in which
consumers make decisions
Berman and Evans (2001) The store atmosphere is made up of several
elements of the store environment: the exterior of
the store(e.g., storefront, display windows, size
and height of the building, surrounding areas and
stores), the general interior(e.g., ooring, color,
lighting, dressing facilities, personnel,
merchandise, cleanliness), store layout(e.g.,
space allocation, product grouping), and interior
(point-of-purchase) displays(e.g., assortment,
posters, electronic displays).
Zhou and Wong (2004) The store atmosphere is a conscious effort to
create retail environments that produce specic
emotional effects on consumers and increase the
likelihood of purchase.
R. Basu et al.
Journal of Business Research 151 (2022) 397–408
399
A comprehensive understanding of the evolving denitions for visual
merchandising, atmospherics, and store atmosphere reveal interesting
dimensions (see Table 1 and 2). Bastow-Shoop, Zetocha, and Passewitz
(1991, p. 13) early denition of visual merchandising as- everything
the customer sees, both exterior and interior, that creates a positive
image of a business and results in attention, interest, desire and action
on the part of the customerseems to converge with Kotler (1973, p.50)
early denition of store atmospherics as an effort invested to create a
desirable buying environment in order to induce specic emotional re-
sponses in consumers and ultimately, increase their purchase probabil-
ity. Thus, the pre-millennium portrayal of visual merchandising as a
store-wide design that induces positive behavior of the retail customer
ripped off its functional distinctiveness from concepts like retail store
environment or atmospherics. Although retail store atmosphere/ at-
mospherics remained as a conscious design function involving physical
and non-physical elements of the retail environment, visual merchan-
dising devoid of a clear distinction was confused as an overlapping
concept dealing with visible elements of the store design. However, the
renaming of the display as visual merchandising in the late 90s (Lea-
Greenwood, 1998) coupled with the rising importance of the display
function in the department store may have led to an inadvertent effort in
dening visual merchandising with greater clarity. Considering the
denitions of visual merchandising that emerged from the early 2000s
till today, a clear emergence of visual merchandising as a distinct and
legitimate domain of study can be traced. Recent denitions by Bell and
Ternus (2006), Pegler and Bliss (2006), Bhalla and Anuraag (2010), Wu
et al. (2015) associate visual merchandising with product/ merchandise
presentation as opposed to the earlier store-wide visible design function.
Moreover, the strategic role of visual merchandising as a conscious
branding activity have also been claried (Bailey & Baker, 2014; Dia-
mond & Diamond, 2003).
To eliminate confusion arising from the early denition of visual
merchandising, the year 2000 can be taken as a benchmark year for
understanding the evolving relevance of visual merchandising as an
independent eld of study. Comparing denitions of visual merchan-
dising and atmospherics in the post-millennium phase of research (see
Table 3) claries their respective scope to a large extent. While store
atmosphere/ atmospherics remained tightly dened as a critical
component of the store environment, visual merchandising denitions
kept evolving with time. Starting as a visible element, the scope of visual
merchandising widened to include non-visual components of smell, feel,
or sound of the display as its critical dimensions (Jang, Baek, & Choo,
2018; Kerfoot, Davies, & Ward, 2003; Mohan, Sivakumaran, & Sharma,
2013). In this evolution (see Table 4), visual merchandising seemed to
converge with the concept of store atmosphere/ atmospherics. Both
were similarly viewed as a consciously designed display function that
helped retailers project a positive store image for the ultimate objective
of customer sales and satisfaction. The functional overlaps of the con-
cepts as seen in the works of Theodoridis and Chatzipanagiotou (2009)
led to considerable confusion. However, our attempt to objectively
compare the denitions, especially those in the post-millennium phase
of research enables us to highlight critical differentiating dimensions
that justies the position of visual merchandising as an independent
eld of study. The critical points of divergences that add to the relevance
of visual merchandising are: Firstly, presentation of merchandise is
identied as the primary scope of visual merchandising (Harris, 1998)
that is not synonymous with store atmosphere (Helmefalk & Hult´
en,
2017; Theodoridis & Chatzipanagiotou, 2009) where the focus is on
creating a suitable retail shopping environment or space. Secondly, store
atmosphere comprises of a mix of store-wide displays with tangible and
intangible elements (Berman & Evans, 2001) or physical and non-
physical elements (Hoffman and Turley (2002) covering interior and
exterior of a retail store (Sirgy et al., 2000). Hence, when store atmo-
sphere or atmospheric research may specically cater to retail man-
agement practitioners, research on visual merchandising as an
important dimension of the product and merchandise strategy can serve
manufacturers and retailers alike. Research specic to visual merchan-
dising can offer critical insights to product marketers that can help in
effectively accessorizing or augmenting their products for better sales.
Thirdly, as it is evident that visual merchandising and store atmosphere
are integral elements of the retail store environment, where visual
merchandising interacts with the store atmosphere to create retail
environment and spaces (Wu et al., 2015) the individual effects of visual
merchandising and its interaction with store atmosphere needs clarity.
Hence, with respect to RQ1, we can justiably infer that independent
research in the domain of visual merchandising will not only aid mar-
keting practices more effectively but also avoid inappropriate inter-
changeable use of the concepts like store atmosphere or atmospherics in
theory.
3. Methodology
Systematic reviews can be approached in myriad ways (Paul &
Criado, 2020; Paul, Lim, OCass, Hao, & Bresciani, 2021). Theme based
reviews (e.g., Khatoon & Rehman, 2021; Mishra, Singh, & Koles, 2021;
Hao, Paul, Trott, Guo, & Wu, 2019; Billore & Anisimova, 2021; Rosado-
Serrano, Paul, & Dikova, 2018),Theory based reviews (e.g., Gilal, Zhang,
Paul, & Gilal, 2019; Paul & Rosado-Serrano, 2019) framework-based
reviews (e.g.; Paul & Benito, 2018; Billore & Anisimova, 2021), re-
view aiming for theory development (e.g. Paul & Mas, 2019), hybrid
reviews (e.g.,Dabi´
c, Vlaˇ
ci´
c, Paul, Dana, Sahasranamam, & Glinka,
Table 3
Comparing Post-Millennium Denitions of Visual Merchandising and Store At-
mosphere/ Atmospherics.
Included Key
Terms
Visual Merchandising
Denitions
Atmospherics/ Store
Atmosphere Denitions
Display Wu et al. (2015) Berman and Evans (2001);
Sirgy et al. (2000)
Environment/
space
Wu et al. (2015) Sirgy et al. (2000); Zhou and
Wong (2004); Berman and
Evans (2001) Berman and
Evans (2001)
Store image Bailey and Baker (2014); Bell
and Ternus (2006)
Pan and Zinkhan (2006)
Exterior and
interior
Berman and Evans (2001);
Sirgy et al. (2000)
Non-physical Hoffman and Turley (2002)
Merchandise/
product
Bhalla and Anuraag (2010);
Wu et al. (2015)
Sales/
Customer
action
Bailey and Baker (2014); Bell
and Ternus (2006); Diamond
and Diamond (2007)
Hoffman and Turley (2002);
Sirgy et al. (2000); Zhou and
Wong (2004)
Store layout Berman and Evans (2001)
Table 4
Visual Merchandising: Evolving Dimensions.
Author (Year) Elements of Visual Merchandising
Harris (1998) In-store visual merchandising includes oor layout,
interior design, signage, in-store promotion, and
product mix.
Eroglu et al. (2001) Images of the merchandise, music, icons, color,
background patterns, animation, and fonts
Kerfoot et al. (2003) Colors, lighting, forms and location, store layout,
store equipment, goods, and display
Ivanauskas and Pajuodis
(2005)
Paintings, pictures, signage, references, etc.
Theodoridis and
Chatzipanagiotou (2009)
Store atmosphere, color, and decoration.
Law et al. (2012) Color combination, product placement, lighting
arrangement, layout and highlight design,
mannequin and props selection, xtures, and
ttings selection.
Mohan et al. (2013) Ambient factors (lighting, scent, music), design
factors (layout and assortment), and social factors.
R. Basu et al.
Journal of Business Research 151 (2022) 397–408
400
2020), bibliometric analysis (e.g., Ruggeri, Orsi, & Corsi, 2019), meta--
analysis (e.g., Rana & Paul, 2020; Paydas Turan, 2021). We chose to
conduct a framework-based review using TCCM protocol grounded in
SPAR-4-SLR (Paul et al., 2021) guidelines.
Following protocol setting guidelines on review articles (Palmatier,
Houston, & Hulland, 2018; Paul & Criado, 2020; Paul et al., 2021), we
used a set of keywords to identify and download relevant articles. As
supported by extant literature, the four primary search terms used were
visual merchandising, store atmospheric, store atmosphere, and
atmospheric/ atmospherics.Considering the frequency of other words
(as elaborated in the previous section), such as design, store envi-
ronment, store layout, store ambience, store image, merchan-
dise, and display as elements of visual merchandising and
atmospherics, a word association test with three independent subject
experts was carried out. Independent coding (1 used for association and
0 used for no association) by the three experts was compiled for the nal
scores. The cumulative scores and qualitative remarks by the indepen-
dent subject experts included three additional terms, namely store
layout,” “store ambience, and merchandise display, which were also
considered to be included for the article search.
Articles were sourced using the seven search terms through Web of
Science and Scopus databases. They are considered the largest and most
widely used online databases and search engines (Buhalis & Law, 2008;
Paul et al., 2021). Following an article selection criteria for systematic
reviews, an advanced search with the seven keywords in the titles and
abstracts for papers written in English published between 2000 and
2020 was undertaken. Considering a late refocus on visual merchan-
dising as a critical retail function following the re-naming of ‘displayas
‘visual merchandingin the late 90s (Lea-Greenwood, 1998), the choice
of the time period under review was justied. As elaborated in Fig. 1, the
selection was based on stepwise inclusion and exclusion criteria, carried
out exclusively for each of the seven identied search terms across the
respective databases.
Only articles which mentioned the respective search terms in their
abstract or title or keywords, published in a journal with an impact
factor were considered for preliminary reading. Articles with a different
primary focus were removed from the article pool. Specically, it was
noted that the term atmosphericis not limited to the retail sector and
had been widely used in different contexts such as atmospheric science/
environment science, (Acito, Diani, & Corsini, 2020; Luo, Li, Chen,
Wang, & An, 2020), telecommunication (Hariq & Odabasioglu, 2020),
etc. Hence, the subject match was thoroughly checked to exclude articles
pertaining to other domains. Moreover, within the retail context, articles
concerning trade dress protection specically deal with consumer pro-
tection measures applicable to the product packaging (Kopp & Lan-
genderfer, 2014) or those using atmospherics to test the use of a
statistical methodology (Michon & Chebat, 2008) were excluded.
Finally, for the journal selection criteria, following previous reviews
(Paul & Rosado-Serrano, 2019; Trapp, 2020), we conned to articles
published in journals with an impact factor of at least 1.0 (2019 impact
factor). The resultant articles mostly belong to the broad categories of
marketing, retail marketing, and fashion retailing. Manual double-
checking of the articles on their respective journal websites after omis-
sion of duplicate entries resulted in 88 papers (see list of reviewed pa-
pers in Web Appendix A) being considered for the analysis (See Table 5).
Fig. 1. Steps for Article Selection (Illustration for visual merchandising keyword search on Emerald).
Table 5
Summary of Search Results Following Article Inclusion-Exclusion Criteria.
Number of articles published in journal with a cite score/ impact factor 1.00 or more
during 200020 with search keyword:
Timeline Visual
Merchandising
Store
Atmosphere/
Store
Atmospheric
Atmospheric
(s)
Store
ambience/
layout/
merchandise
display
Early
Research
20002010
6 (46.15%) 10 (41.7%) 13 (35.1%) 2 (14.3%)
Recent
Research
20112020
7 (53.85%) 14 (58.3%) 24 (64.9%) 12 (85.7%)
Total* 13 24 37 14
*The numbers listed are the number of articles that are found in the respective
databases such as Scopus and Web of science as a result of a step-by-step search.
R. Basu et al.
Journal of Business Research 151 (2022) 397–408
401
4. Synthesis of research in visual merchandising and
substitutable domains
To synthesize the research purpose, scope, methodology, and nd-
ings of the 88 papers on visual merchandising and its substitutable do-
mains, the articles were studied individually for easier identication of
the critical overlaps. A total of 13 articles for visual merchandising, 24
for store atmosphere/ atmospherics, 37 for Atmospheric/Atmospherics
and 14 for the combination of store layout/ store ambience/ merchan-
dise display were studied in detail (see the tabulated summary of all
reviewed papers in Web Appendix B listed in domain-wise tables from a
to h). Before examining the articles in the light of the Theory-Context-
Characteristics-Methodology (TCCM) framework, their bibliographic
sources were compiled. The 88 articles in this review were published
across 33 qualifying journals. Noticeably, the outlet for research in the
sub-domain was fragmented across a wide range of journals across do-
mains like business, marketing, fashion, internet, sociology, psychology,
and others. Many of them featured just one article in either visual
merchandising, store atmospherics, store ambience/layout, or
merchandise display over the 20 year period. Evidently, recent research
across the substitutable domains far outnumbered early research pub-
lished in the rst decade of this century.
4.1. Visual merchandising: research elements and impact
Over the rst two decades of this century, visual merchandising has
been progressively studied in different retail settings. It has been studied
in various contexts like food (Kpossa & Lick, 2020), apparel (Law et al.,
2012), apparel websites (Ha & Lennon, 2010; Ha et al., 2007; Kha-
kimdjanova & Park, 2005; Zibafar et al., 2019), and fashion retailing
(Jang et al., 2018; Kerfoot et al., 2003; Park et al., 2015; Zibafar et al.,
2019). It is considered very important, especially when one considers
that using the wrong visual merchandising elements can eventually
harm the store image (Ha et al., 2007). For example, improper in-store
directions for customer access and navigation can confuse them and
impact their shopping behavior (Kerfoot et al., 2003). Here, visual
merchandising elements such as color, lighting, music props, and man-
nequins are all signicant in their way (Kerfoot et al., 2003; Law et al.,
2012) as well as their effect in combination with other environmental
aspects like hangers, xtures, and ooring are equally noted (Ha et al.,
2007). However, the visual merchandising impact could be category
driven. For instance, in an online retail environment, visual merchan-
dising elements for apparel websites are more critical than those in other
product categories (Ha et al., 2007). Visual merchandising has been
primarily studied for its impact on customer satisfaction, purchase
intention, buying behavior, and revisit intention (Kerfoot et al., 2003;
Park et al., 2015; Ha & Lennon, 2010; Zibafar et al., 2019). Interestingly,
research on visual merchandising continued to heavily concentrate on
studying its impact on apparel and fashion brand retailing to be specic.
4.2. Store atmosphere and store atmospherics: research elements and
impact
The rising importance of store atmosphere in retail management
attracted researchers to study it in detail (Kotler, 1973; B¨
ackstr¨
om &
Johansson, 2006). The domain has been able to garner increasing
research interest specically over the last decade growing from 10
research articles in the earlier decade to 14 articles during 20112020.
As an outcome, most research on store atmosphere and store atmo-
spherics concentrated on understanding its impact on consumer pur-
chases, emotional state (Cheng, Wu, & Yen, 2009; Helmefalk & Hult´
en,
2017), consumers approach/ avoidance behavior (Eroglu et al., 2003;
Murray, Teller, & Elms, 2019; Summers & Hebert, 2001), store
patronage (Grewal, Baker, Levy, & Voss, 2003; Hyllegard, Ogle, Yan, &
Kissell, 2016; Poncin & Mimoun, 2014), and the inevitable customer
satisfaction (Bell & Ternus, 2006; Eroglu et al., 2003; Francioni, Savelli,
& Cioppi, 2018; Hyllegard, Ogle, & Dunbar, 2006; Poncin & Mimoun,
2014). The elements of visual merchandising like display, music, color,
ambient scent, lighting, and layout were shared in case of store atmo-
sphere or store atmospherics (Cheng et al., 2009; Skandrani et al., 2011;
Summers & Hebert, 2001) that had a comparable impact on the number
of visits and purchase behavior of the shoppers (Ettis, 2017; Yildirim,
Cagatay, & Hidayeto˘
glu, 2015). The effect of the music and color
scheme of the store on the consumers emotional response was recorded
(Cheng et al., 2009; Ettis, 2017). However, for the online store atmo-
sphere, the need for customization made it a little more complicated
than that in the conventional retail space (Vrechopoulos, 2010). Store
atmosphere or store atmospherics were found to create positive re-
lationships with greater store loyalty and patronage intentions of the
customer (Francioni et al., 2018; Grewal et al., 2003; Hyllegard et al.,
2016; Poncin & Mimoun, 2014).
4.3. Research on atmospheric/ atmospherics
Turley and Milliman (2000) recognized ve broad categories of at-
mospheric(s): exterior, general interior, store layout, interior display
and human variables. Similar to researchers in-store atmosphere or
store atmospheric studies, atmospherics has also been studied for un-
derstanding its impact on consumers purchase decisions, responses and
their emotional disposition (Abarbanel, Bernhard, Singh, & Lucas, 2015;
Dennis, Michon, Brakus, Newman, & Alamanos, 2012; Grayson &
McNeill, 2009; Turley & Milliman, 2000) during and after the retail
experience. Post-purchase behaviour in the form of consumers word-of-
mouth action was also found to be effected (Hatzithomas, Gkorezis,
Zotou, & Tsourvakas, 2018). In comparison with store atmospheric,
researchers studying atmospherics have been largely concentrating on
studying the effects of music (Bailey & Areni, 2006; Raja, Anand, &
Allan, 2019; Toldos, Gonz´
alez, & Motyka, 2019) other than the usual
dimensions of brick and mortar retail atmospherics such as light or
signages (Ballantine, Parsons, & Comeskey, 2015; Biswas, Szocs,
Chacko, & Wansink, 2017; Dennis et al., 2012). The holistic view of
atmospheric as a critical dimension of the retail experience has been
gaining ground (Ballantine et al. 2010, 2015; Roggeveen, Grewal, &
Schweiger, 2020), especially over the last decade across physical as well
as web-based retail environments. Interesting studies on atmospheric
effects in B2B retail environment (Noad & Rogers, 2008) or the recent
work on green atmospherics (Han et al., 2020) were also attempted by
researchers in this domain.
4.4. Research on store ambience, store layout, and merchandise display
Research on store ambience, layout, and merchandise displays not
only cross paths amongst themselves but has also been considered
interchangeably within the larger store atmospheric or atmospherics
dimensions. Especially over the last decade, these topics have been
studied extensively by retail researchers as 85.7% of the qualifying ar-
ticles in this integrated domain were published during 20112020. In
contemporary literature, store layout has been studied in both online
and ofine contexts (Grifth, 2005; Vrechopoulos, 2004; Wu, Lee, Fu, &
Wang, 2014). In the online context, the tree structure layout of the
website with the home page at the root is considered to be more effective
for its inherent advantage of easy access or navigation. The effectiveness
of the tree structure induces greater purchase intention and creates a
positive attitude towards retailers that supports higher brand recall
(Grifth, 2005; Krasonikolakis, Vrechopoulos, Pouloudi, & Dimitriadis,
2018; Manganari, Siomkos, Rigopoulou, & Vrechopoulos, 2011). In
physical stores, the impact of specic display structures like angled-
racks is studied for their effectiveness in giving products exposure
(Mowrey, Parikh, & Gue, 2018), which in turn leads to positive purchase
intention (Grifth, 2005; Ijaz, Tao, Rhee, Kang, & Alan, 2016; Vre-
chopoulos, 2004; Wu et al., 2014). Some of the elements of visual
merchandising, store atmosphere, and atmospherics were found to be
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Journal of Business Research 151 (2022) 397–408
402
shared with features like in-store music, store layout, and ambient scent
(Triantallidou, Siomkos, & Papalippaki, 2017). Similarly, studies on
merchandise displays highlighted the importance of understanding the
need for providing the right product or price information (Huddleston,
Behe, Minahan, & Fernandez, 2015) that may be as equally pertinent as
dealing with visual merchandising.
5. Integrated summary of review ndings
Based on the systematic synthesis of research published in visual
merchandising and its closely related domains an integrated summary
based on the TCCM framework is used to identify existing research gaps.
In the theoretical ndings, we review the most commonly used frame-
works that have been used in visual merchandising and related research
on store environments. In the context sub-section, we review the
empirical realm of such research, particularly considering the categories
of retail that have been investigated by researchers. On a micro level the
characteristics of the research in terms of the variables or factors
considered by studies. Finally, a summary of the methodology used is
compiled to help outline a comprehensive agenda for future research in
light of the framework based summary.
5.1. Theories (T)
For the purpose of theory building a few qualitative studies used
grounded theory to investigate relationships with visual merchandising
and consumers cognitive or affective response (Law et al., 2012) and a
similar study to understand childrens responses in-store atmosphere
(Ayadi & Cao, 2016). The moderating role of store atmosphere was also
studied using the grounded theoretic approach (Cho, Kim, Park, & Lee,
2014). Similarly, facet theory that combines formal content design with
data analysis was used in a couple of research studies in the domain of
visual merchandising (Davies & Ward, 2005; Wu et al., 2015). For the
purpose of developing the theoretical base for an evolving concept like
visual merchandising, the choice of facet theory as an appropriate tool to
develop and measure theory can be cited.
Although the fragmented and sporadic research efforts in the domain
still await a reasoned propositional structure and foundation, the
(Stimulus-Organism-Response) S-O-R lens have been most popular with
researchers studying the retail environment in general (see Table 6). As
detailed in the integrated summary store atmosphere and atmospherics
researchers across online and ofine retailing found the usefulness of the
S-O-R lens in determining the impact of atmospheric cues in the
emotional, cognitive and affective responses as well as patronage in-
tentions of the consumer (Eroglu et al., 2003; Hyllegard et al., 2016;
Kim, Kim, & Lennon, 2009; Lunardo & Mbengue, 2013). This was
further supported by researchers like Ha and Lennon (2010), Manganari
et al. (2011) and Wu et al. (2014) who have effectively applied the S-O-R
framework in understanding the impacts of visual merchandising, dis-
plays, store layouts and ambience in their respective works.
5.2. Context (C)
Based on the 88 articles under review it is seen that researchers have
mostly concentrated on studying the concepts in single country contexts
except for a few exceptions like Ha et al. (2007) who studied apparel
websites from US and Korea to understand the visual merchandising
elements in the online retail environment. In the case of purely empirical
studies, two studies by Davis, Wang, and Lindridge (2008) and Barros,
Petroll, Damacena, and Knoppe (2019) have established that cultural
contexts of the countries studied by them have no such effect on the
consumers responses with respect to store atmosphere/ atmospheric
cues. Hence, cultural contexts remain largely unexplored in the visual
merchandising domain as the couple of store atmosphere/ atmospheric
studies that considered American vs Chinese or Brazilian vs German
consumers have not yielded much result.
Next, with the growing importance of online/ e-retailers a number of
studies including Khakimdjanova and Park (2005); Ha et al. (2007); Ha
and Lennon (2010) in visual merchandising; Davis et al. (2008), Dennis,
Merrilees, Manganari, Siomkos, and Vrechopoulos (2009), Eroglu,
Machleit, and Davis (2001), Savelli, Cioppi, and Tombari (2017), Ettis
(2017), Kim et al. (2009), and Abarbanel et al. (2015) in-store atmo-
sphere/ atmospherics have explored virtual or online retail consumers.
Additionally store layout or website layout specic studies conducted by
Vrechopoulos (2010); Wu et al. (2014); Manganari et al. (2011), and
Grifth (2005) have highlighted that understanding design and display
elements of the online retail environment will be critical for success.
Two key takeaways can be summarized from the integrated review:
Firstly, it is observed that elements of visual merchandising in online
and ofine stores cannot be used interchangeably. Here, although most
of the ofine visual merchandising elements may have relevance in the
online context, the reverse is not applicable (Ha et al., 2007). Secondly,
Table 6
Integrated Review Summary of Research using the Stimulus-Organism-Response (S-O-R) lens.
Domain Author Purpose Findings
Visual Merchandising Ha and Lennon
(2010)
Analyze the impact of online visual merchandising cues on
the pleasure and arousal of customers within different
environments.
Showed a signicant impact of high task-relevant cues on both
arousal and pleasure under high situational involvement.
Store Atmosphere/
Atmospheric
Eroglu et al.
(2003)
Investigate how online storesatmospheric cues impact the
shoppers cognitive and emotional state, affecting their
shopping outcome.
Online store atmospheric elicits a positive reaction from shoppers
and portrays that satisfaction, attitudes, and approach/avoidance
behavior will be noticeable.
Hyllegard et al.
(2016)
Examine the effect of store atmospheric (exterior) on
patronage intention, consumer liking of store exterior, and
consumers emotional state
There is no positive inuence of exterior store atmospheres on
consumersemotional state or liking. Contradicting the prior
studies, it shows that greetings by store personnel raise negative
responses from customers
Kim et al. (2009) Examine the effects of website atmospherics such as music as
well as product presentation on consumerspsychological,
cognitive, and conative responses in online shopping
Product presentation had a considerable result on consumers
emotional actions, and also there was a positive relationship among
customersemotional, cognitive, and conative actions. Music did not
affect consumersemotional reactions.
Lunardo and
Mbengue
(2013).
This article explores the case where consumers perceive the
store environment as a manipulative tool in use by the
retailer.
Incongruent store atmospheres urge customers to make inferences of
manipulative intent from the retailers. Those inferences adversely
inuence consumersunderstanding of the retailers honesty and
mindsets towards the ambience and the retailers.
Store Ambience/
Layout/ Merchandise
Display
Manganari et al.
(2011)
Examine the virtual store layouts perceived ease of use
effects on consumer behavior
Conrms that the available knowledge on virtual store layout
impacts shopper behavior. However, layout patterns impact
perceived pleasure and not ease of use.
Wu et al. (2014) Analyze store layout design and atmosphere impact on
consumersonline shopping intention.
Store layout impacts the consumer attitude and emotional arousal
towards online shopping and positively inuences purchase
intention.
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Journal of Business Research 151 (2022) 397–408
403
the importance of store layout remains paramount in the online envi-
ronment that can signicantly affect consumerspurchase intention and
perceived pleasure. Hence the effectiveness of all other elements of the
store environment including visual merchandising may be moderated by
user-friendliness or easy navigability of the webpage.
5.3. Characteristics (C)
Evidently, over the last two decades, many overlapping studies have
treated the concepts of visual merchandising, store atmosphere or at-
mospherics independently of each other but essentially tested them for
similar purposes and outcomes. Analyzing the body of research the
common characteristic themes of the studies can be broadly identied as
i) study of elements and impact, ii) hedonic vs utilitarian scope, iii)
testing of sensory cues. Theme-wise summary of research characteristics
across the related domains reveals (see Table 7) that visual merchan-
dising and store atmosphere/ atmospherics similarly impact the satis-
faction, purchase to post-purchase intention and overall buyer
behaviour of the retail customer. Hence, the display function as a whole
affects the hedonic value perception of the retail offer where the inter-
action among the elements may be at play. However, for the sensory cue-
related studies, researchers have actively considered store atmospherics
as opposed to visual merchandising studies (see Table 8 and Table 9).
5.4. Methods (M)
An in-depth review of the articles revealed that more than one-third
of the studies (35.2 percent), especially those in the areas of store at-
mosphere, layout, and merchandise display, had used experimental
design (see Tables 15 and 16). Some exceptional instances of smallest
space analysis, fuzzy AHP technique using fuzzy logic based Analytic
Hierarchy Process, thematic analysis, ANOVA, particle swarm optimi-
zation (PSO) algorithm, cluster analysis, etc., were also noted. However,
researchers have commonly used the survey method to understand
consumer purchase behavior (Cho & Lee, 2017; Jang et al., 2018, 2014;
Yildirim et al., 2015), emotional response (Barros et al., 2019; Hyllegard
et al., 2016), and impulse purchase (Barros et al., 2019) across studies in
the cross-over domain. Interestingly, experimental studies were specif-
ically conducted to test the hypothesis on store atmospherics and at-
mosphere research. The use of experimental study in the case of the
latest research by Kpossa and Lick (2020) on visual merchandising hints
at the possibility of more experimental studies in the domain like its
other related counterparts.
6. Directions for future research
This review of literature on the integrated domains of visual
merchandising, store atmosphere/ atmospherics and other related do-
mains improve our understanding of the scope of these related concepts.
The convergences and divergences of their respective scope as derived
from the analysis of denitions and studies in the post-millennium phase
discussed under the theoretical underpinnings and synthesis of research
sections of this article effectively addresses our rst and second research
questions that provide the basis for addressing the remaining research
questions. To start with, it becomes imperative for researchers to pursue
future studies with greater clarity on treating visual merchandising as a
product-driven display function as opposed to store atmosphere as a
store-wide display function. The framework based integrated review
also brings forth several limitations of the current pool of research
considered in this review. Firstly, despite the evidenced interplay of
visual merchandising and store atmosphere, a comprehensive under-
standing of their interaction effects on the ultimate goal of manufac-
turers or retailers market performance has been completely ignored.
Secondly, the interchangeable use of the concepts continues to confuse
the domain knowledge. Particularly the evolving denitions of the vi-
sual merchandising show a tendency of researchers to confuse with el-
ements of store atmospherics. Use of store layout, oor spaces that have
been considered by some researchers like Harris (1998), Kerfoot et al.
(2003), Theodoridis and Chatzipanagiotou (2009), Mohan et al. (2013)
and others add to the confusion. Thirdly, the current knowledge lacks
width, as it is concentrated in categories like apparel and fashion.
Therefore studies that integrate visual merchandising and store atmo-
spherics (as proposed in Fig. 2) will be required to help practitioners
with a more comprehensive understanding of the related concepts.
In view of the existing gaps in the cross over domains of visual
merchandising and substitutable store environment domains such as
store atmosphere/ atmospherics, the integrated framework scores as a
novel pioneering attempt to bring together the two seemingly over-
lapping domains and articulate their boundaries to eliminate confusion
among researchers. As the only framework that clearly showcases visual
merchandising elements as product focused and store atmosphere ele-
ments as retail focused- the framework also indicates the obvious
interaction between the two that ultimately leads to consumer choices.
As a result, the importance of synergistic product-cum-retail strategies
or manufacturer-cum-retailer strategies is suggested. The role of the
inherently dynamic interaction effects of visual merchandising and store
atmosphere that has often been mistaken for each other and inadver-
tently neglected by researchers is now brought into focus for future
empirical investigations. Moreover, the categorization of visual and
non-visual elements of visual merchandising and store atmosphere in
the framework that can be effectively applied across online and ofine
retail environments serves as an important contribution. For example,
retailer controlled elements such human variables or store layout that
have been categorically identied under store atmospherics would not
only limit the erratic synonymous use of visual merchandising and store
atmosphere as concepts but also guide development of sophisticated
models covering the two overlapping but functionally distinct di-
mensions of retail environment.
In addition to the integrated framework, to elaborate on the di-
rections for future research, following Kumar, Paul, and Unnithan
(2020), a Theory, Context, Characteristics and Methods (TCCM)
framework is used as follows:
Table 7
Integrated Summary of the Characteristics.
Themes Findings Authors
Elements
and effects
Visual merchandising has been
widely used for online and
ofine retail in the categories of
apparel and fashion marketing.
Khakimdjanova and Park
(2005); Law et al. (2012); Ha
et al. (2007); Kerfoot et al.
(2003); Jang et al. (2018);
Zibafar et al. (2019).
The impact of visual
merchandising elements like
color, lighting, music props,
and mannequins was found to
be signicantly high
Kerfoot et al. (2003); Law et al.
(2012); Kpossa and Lick (2020)
Visual merchandising impacts
purchase intention and impulse
buying behavior.
Park et al. (2015); Kerfoot et al.
(2003); Law et al. (2012); Park
et al. (2015)
Similarly, store atmosphere/
atmospheric also possess a
similar element of visual
merchandising and impacts
consumer satisfaction, purchase
intention, buying behavior, and
revisit intention.
Yildirim et al. (2015); Summers
and Hebert (2001); Sharma and
Stafford (2000); Turley and
Milliman (2000); Siomkos and
Papalippaki (2017)
Hedonic vs
Utilitarian
Visual merchandise and store
atmospherics have been studied
for their effect on the hedonic
value perception of the
consumer
Kpossa and Lick (2020);Wu et al.
(2015);Cho and Lee (2017)
Sensory cues Store atmosphere affects
sensory and brand experience
Bhatt et al. (2020); Spence et al.
(2014); Helmefalk and Hult´
en
(2017).
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Journal of Business Research 151 (2022) 397–408
404
6.1. Theoretical perspectives (T)
In the task of dening visual merchandising for well-grounded
research, it is observed that researchers have dened visual merchan-
dising and store atmosphere or atmospherics in isolation. The inde-
pendent treatment of the two related subjects had led to an inadvertent
convergence of the denitions without much clarity on how they are
different. Though some researchers have mentioned visual merchan-
dising as a subset of store atmospherics (Berman & Evans, 2001), the
lack of clear demarcation between the two concepts led to the inter-
changeable use of the terms. Since there is no such clear consensus on
how these terms are different, there is an immediate need for research
introspection to understand the scope of independent studies in visual
merchandising that remains a small fuzzy subset of store atmospherics
research. Studies that could elaborate on the effectiveness of visual
merchandising as a critical component of retail store atmospherics
compared to other components could serve a useful purpose to under-
stand how they can be integrated.
Owing to the fragmented research in the domain that does not con-
nect with each other, research in visual merchandising, store atmo-
spherics or overlapping areas lacks a coherent theoretical base. Though
a handful of studies have used the Facet theory (Davies & Ward, 2005;
Wu et al., 2015) or the S-O-R theory (Eroglu et al., 2003) to model
research in the respective areas, they remain far from being an estab-
lished base theoretical model. Future research based on applying the
theory of planned behavior to model the role of visual merchandising in
a planned purchase as opposed to impulse buying will go a long way in
dening the fundamental role and effect of visual merchandising in
practical buying situations. Similarly, the use of TAM (Technology
Adoption Model) in online retail atmospherics will serve as essential
value addition. The role of consumers adeptness with the technology
may be established as a prerequisite for the effectiveness of visual
merchandising cues.
6.2. Context (C)
The existing body of work, particularly in visual merchandising, has
been primarily focused on the context of apparel, spanning fashion to
intimate apparel (Khakimdjanova & Park, 2005; Law et al., 2012) with
only a few exceptions for food (Kpossa & Lick, 2020).
COVID 19 has resulted in structural changes in many areas (Gordon-
Wilson, 2021; Yap, Xu, & Tan, 2021; Rayburn, McGeorge, Anderson, &
Sierra, 2021; Kursan Milakovi´
c, 2021; Sharma, Thomas, & Paul, 2021;
Chopdar, Paul, & Prodanova, 2022). For example, digital transformation
is the new normal and have become part of peoples life in many sectors
(Chakraborty & Paul, 2022; Purohit, Arora, & Paul, 2022; Chopdar,
Paul, Koratis, & Lytras, 2022). As an outcome, we need new theories,
scales, methods and paradigms to carry research studies in the post-
pandemic era to analyze the new processes, patterns and problems in
different areas including visual merchandising. We concur with the prior
calls (Paul & Bhukya, 2021), for developing new frameworks and
models to carry out future studies in this regard.
Though a single study covering grocery retailers has been done by
store layout researchers (Roy, Shekhar, Quazi, & Quaddus, 2020), the
need to extend relevant work to address the growing sector of grocery
retailers and online grocery players in the post-COVID scenario is in
demand. The present research base across the related eld of visual
merchandising remains fragmented and lacks contemporary studies that
could help with sound sector-specic managerial implications. Visual
merchandising studies focused on identifying critical components in the
case of luxury or masstige products, or the case of omni-channel retailers
may be important. Even geographical focus could well be extended to
consider the cultural antecedents of visual merchandising effects on
consumers, as there are only a couple of two country-comparison studies
(Vrechopoulos, 2004).
Table 8
Widely used Research Methods.
Survey method Experimental study Content analysis Mixed method Others
Kerfoot et al. (2003); Huddleston
et al. (2015); Roy et al. (2020); Wu
et al. (2014); Murray et al. (2019);
Cho et al. (2014); Barros et al.
(2019); Bhatt et al. (2020); Eroglu
et al. (2003); Fowler, Wesley, and
Vazquez (2007); Ayadi and Cao
(2016); Law et al. (2012); Bagdare
(2014) Abarbanel et al. (2015);
Vijay, Prashar, and Parsad (2017);
Hatzithomas et al. (2018); Lee and
Kim (2019); Han et al. (2020);
Yildirim et al. (2015);
Triantallidou et al. (2017); Babin
and Attaway (2000); Mazaheri,
Richard, Laroche, and Ueltschy
(2014); Kim, Choi, and Lee (2015);
Savelli et al. (2017).
Ha and Lennon (2010); Kpossa and
Lick (2020); Zibafar et al. (2019);
Jang et al. (2018); Helmefalk and
Hult´
en (2017); Grewal et al.
(2003); Ettis (2017); Grifth
(2005); Vrechopoulos (2010);
Mowrey et al. (2018); Manganari
et al. (2011); Hyllegard et al.
(2016); Sharma and Stafford
(2000); Cho and Lee (2017); Cheng
et al. (2009); Ijaz et al. (2016);
Hwangbo, Kim, Lee, and Kim
(2017); Logkizidou et al. (2019);
Davis et al. (2008); Bailey and
Areni (2006); Dennis et al. (2012);
Biswas et al. (2017); Essawy
(2019); Toldos et al. (2019);
Poncin and Mimoun (2014);
Imschloss and Kuehnl (2017); Kim
et al. (2009); Michon, Chebat, and
Turley (2005); Richard (2005);
Lunardo and Mbengue (2013);
Tsichla, Hatzithomas, and
Boutsouki (2016); Lee, Noble, and
Biswas (2018); Biswas, Lund, and
Szocs (2019).
Wu et al. (2015); Ha et al.
(2007); Khakimdjanova
and Park (2005);
Skandrani et al. (2011);
Parker (2003)
Park et al. (2015);
Krasonikolakis et al. (2018);
Brun, Kluge, K¨
onigsfeld,
Fassnacht, and Mitschke
(2013); Grewal, Roggeveen,
Puccinelli, and Spence (2014).
Davies and Ward (2005);
Vrechopoulos (2004); Altuntas
(2017); Liao and Tasi (2019);
Dennis et al. (2009); Francioni
et al. (2018); Summers and Hebert
(2001); Turley and Milliman
(2000); Hoffman and Turley
(2002); Ballantine, Jack, and
Parsons (2010); Grayson and
McNeill (2009); Noad and Rogers
(2008); Ballantine et al. (2015);
Roschk, Loureiro, and Breitsohl
(2017); Raja et al. (2019);
Roggeveen et al. (2020); Bide
(2018); Hyllegard et al. (2006);
Spence et al. (2014); Chebat and
Dube (2000); Dailey (2004);
Eroglu et al. (2001).
Table 9
Distribution of Widely used Research Methods in our
Sample.
Method Total %
Survey method 27
Experimental study 37.5
Content analysis 6
Mixed method 4.5
Others 25
R. Basu et al.
Journal of Business Research 151 (2022) 397–408
405
6.3. Characteristics (C)
In terms of the variables used, visual merchandising and store at-
mospherics literature has a lot in common, which adds to the confusion
in distinguishing between them. The effects of visual merchandising,
store atmospherics, and other related domains on retail branding (Ker-
foot et al., 2003), purchase intention (Park et al., 2015), consumer de-
cision making (Law et al., 2012), or even impulse buying is most
common. However, the effect of multi-sensory cues has been studied
explicitly for store atmospherics (Helmefalk & Hult´
en, 2017; Spence,
Puccinelli, Grewal, & Roggeveen, 2014), which may be equally impor-
tant in the case of the evolving scope of visual merchandising in the era
of online retail. Studies that could clarify the specic outcomes of
layout, atmospherics, or visual merchandising conducted independently
of each other, as well as evaluating their summated effects, may bring
interesting insights for managers.
6.4. Methodology (M)
Unlike the fragmented research in the overlapping domains of visual
merchandising and store atmospherics, methodologically, the majority
of the empirical papers relied on using experiments (Kpossa & Lick,
2020; Park et al., 2015; Zibafar et al., 2019) followed by a survey
method (Jang et al., 2018; Zibafar et al., 2019) and conrmatory factor
analysis (Park et al., 2015) for testing the models. However, the lack of
operationalization of the denitions leads to the interchangeable use of
constructs across the elds of visual merchandising, store atmospherics,
and even store layout that leads to low generalizability. Interestingly,
the experimental designs that have been mainly used for studies on store
atmospherics could easily be extended to test more robust models with
clear-cut constructs for visual merchandising as one of the components
of store atmospherics. Techniques like factor analysis (Barros et al.,
2019; Bhatt, Sarkar, & Sarkar, 2020; Davis et al., 2008; Eroglu et al.,
2003; Grewal et al., 2003; Ha & Lennon, 2010; Logkizidou, Bottomley,
Angell, & Evanschitzky, 2019; Murray et al., 2019; Park et al., 2015),
ANOVA (Cho & Lee, 2017; Ettis, 2017; Huddleston et al., 2015; Ijaz
et al., 2016; Poncin & Mimoun, 2014; Summers & Hebert, 2001; Vre-
chopoulos, 2004), and Structural Equation Modeling or SEM (Barros
et al., 2019; Bhatt et al., 2020; Cho et al., 2014; Manganari et al., 2011;
Murray et al., 2019; Triantallidou et al., 2017; Wu et al., 2014) have
already been extensively used by many researchers, and therefore the
introduction of new analytical techniques may help uncover new di-
mensions. Moreover, the specic use of SEM or logistic regression
modeling techniques may be used by researchers to carry out conr-
matory studies.
7. Conclusion
In an attempt to understand the course of research in the integrated
domains of visual merchandising and store atmospherics, this review
covered a comprehensive list of articles published in the last two de-
cades. Hence, it is still not a fully exhaustive study and may have omitted
some relevant studies, especially those published before the turn of the
century. Owing to the criteria of including journal articles with the
keywords in the title or abstract, some relevant studies that may have
used visual merchandising factors to understand different themes in
related areas of marketing or retail could not be included. Similarly,
signicant work published in conference proceedings, monographs,
dissertations, chapters, and books may have added to the exhaustiveness
of the review. Interestingly, to review visual merchandising, the sub-
stitutable terms for visual merchandising have been considered for the
article selection. However, substitutable terms for store atmosphere/
Fig. 2. An Integrated Framework for Research In Visual Merchandising and Store Atmospherics.
R. Basu et al.
Journal of Business Research 151 (2022) 397–408
406
atmospherics or store layout have not been included in the study to
avoid dilution of the key objectives of the paper. To conclude, the
research in this area can be extended to other emerging areas of e-at-
mospherics or web atmospherics that is fast gaining ground with the
advent of electronic retail environments in the parlance of Marketing
4.0.
CRediT authorship contribution statement
Rituparna Basu: Writing review & editing, Writing original
draft, Supervision, Resources, Formal analysis, Data curation, Concep-
tualization. Justin Paul: Writing review & editing, Writing original
draft, Supervision, Methodology, Formal analysis, Conceptualization.
Kandarp Singh: Writing original draft, Visualization, Resources,
Investigation, Formal analysis, Data curation.
Declaration of Competing Interest
The authors declare that they have no known competing nancial
interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to inuence
the work reported in this paper.
Appendix A. Supplementary material
Supplementary data to this article can be found online at https://doi.
org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2022.07.019.
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Dr Rituparna Basu is Associate Professor and Area Chair of Marketing at International
Management Institute Kolkata. She won the rst prize in the Global ISB-Ivey Case
Competition 2017 and thereafter has adual win to her credit with 2 teaching cases in the
2018 edition of the global competition. She was also awarded the runners up prize for
CEEMAN Emerald Case Writing Competition 2020. She received many awards including
the prestigious AIMS Outstanding Woman Management Researcher Award 2017, AIMS-
IRMA Outstanding Young Woman Management Teacher Award 2016 for her contribution
to management teaching and research. She has written 30+peer reviewed research papers
for top international journals and is cited widely. She has been an adjunct faculty to IIT
Kharagpur and an Erasmus+Grant awardee. Dr. Basu may be reached at r.basu@imi-k.
edu.in
Kandarp Singh is a Fellow Researcher at International Management Institute Kolkata
(IMI-K). He is currently working on the thesis titled Exploring the relationship between store
atmospheric and consumer buying behaviour in Omnichannel retailing. He has worked for
almost 2 years at IMI-K under a project by The United Nations Development Program
(UNDP) and the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF). He has cleared National
Eligibility Test (NET). He has a Masters and Bachelor degree with a specialization in
Marketing from St. Xaviers, college Kolkata, India. Kandarp Singh can be reached at
kandarp.singh@imi-k.edu.in
Dr Justin Paul, serves as Editor-in-chief of A ranked International Journal of Consumer
studies, and as an Associate Editor of Journal of Business Research. A former faculty
member with the University of Washington, he is serving as Full Professor of PhD & MBA
programs, University of Puerto Rico, USA (AACSB). He holds three honorary titles as
Distinguished Professor with three reputed universities including- Indian Institute of
Management (IIM-K), and SIBM, Pune. He is known as an author/co-author of books such
as Business Environment (4th ed), International Marketing, Services Marketing, Export-
Import Management (2nd edition), Management of Banking & Financial Services by
McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press & Pearson respectively. He also serves as an Asso-
ciate Editor with European Management Journal, & Journal of Strategic Marketing. An
author of over 110 research papers in SSCI journals, Justin has over 70 papers in A or A star
journals as per ABDC rankings. He has also served as an associate professor at Nagoya
University, Japan and as Department Chair at IIM. In addition, he has taught full courses at
Aarhus University- Denmark, Grenoble Eco le de Management-& University of Versailles
-France, University-Lithuania, Warsaw -Poland and has been a visiting professor at Uni-
versity of Chicago, Vienna University- Austria, Fudan & UIBE-China, UAB- Barcelona and
Madrid and has published three best selling case studies with Ivey & Harvard.
R. Basu et al.
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