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  • Writer's picturePBMIF


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This is a shoe store (if you haven’t guessed already). You may either find it eerie and clinical due to its bareness and white interior, or you may just find it your cup of tea… neat and orderly. Because all of the shoes are so tidily positioned, it would feel wrong to just pick one up and take a look at it as if a security guard will approach you immediately and tell you to leave the store. Certainly, the lighting makes it even eerier.

Similar to this shoe store, designer stores display less items to highlight their items are limited

A store’s design can greatly influence a consumer’s shopping experience and buying behaviour. There’s a lot of thoroughly thought about factors that come into play concerning a store’s design (including visual merchandising), so that items can be seen at the right place and time for you to pick up and put in your basket, consequently increasing the store’s profits. A good store design will use space efficiently and guide consumers where to go.

Much existing consumer research on store design has mainly focused on food retail and not fashion. Research concerning store design in a fashion context is slowly beginning to crop up however. For example, Jang et al. (2018) found that consumers respond differently to visual complexity in a fashion store design depending on their level of fashion involvement. The visual complexity of a fashion store’s design can affect a consumer’s arousal state. A store high in visual complexity is sure to be decorated with patterns on walls, floors, ceilings, and fixtures, and has freely arranged furniture and displays as opposed to a grid-like layout. Jang and colleagues (2018) suggest that regardless of a consumer’s involvement with fashion, stores with high visual complexity are likely to have a positive impact on consumers’ arousal. The researchers found differences between those highly involved in fashion to those who aren’t so keen. Consumers who are greatly interested in fashion feel pleasure when exposed to highly complex visual store designs. However, consumers with little interest in fashion were found to have greater pleasure in a store with low visual complexity than in a store with high visual complexity. There are drawbacks to not having a passion for fashion it seems. In addition, a really boring and plain store environment will make consumers bored and uninterested.

Concerning visual merchandising displays themselves, what is noticed by a consumer is generally subliminal and is influenced by personal preferences, gender, display quality, and contextual and sensory characteristics (Hefer & Cant, 2013). Consumers are attentive to well designed and logical displays that take colour, design, scents, sounds, and space into account. If an item is in an odd place or a consumer cannot find an item displayed in store, it’s not likely to make a consumer particularly happy. Whereas women are more observant of all factors in a store’s design, men tend to focus just on signs to help them find products in a store (Hefer & Cant, 2013).

What is recommended to positively enhance a consumer’s shopping experience in a store? Stores should consider adopting visual merchandising elements known to attract consumers and stimulate arousal such as a communication factor (e.g., digital screen displays) to provide useful information for consumers and advertise products, new product displays, logo signage on an interior focal wall to enhance consumers’ brand engagement, seating, and a welcoming entrance/exterior featuring signage, interesting lighting, and props such as plants (Kim & Lee, 2021).

Interestingly, research has been carried out on shoe stores specifically (i.e., Allahdadi & Shokri, 2018). Consumers find places to sit one of the most important factors of a shoe store… that makes sense. Along with that, wide space between displays are also appreciated. The researchers also make note that it is beneficial for shoe stores to implement ‘cool tone’ colours such as greys, blues, greens, and violets to let the shoes shine.


Allahdadi, M. & Shokri, P. (2018). Interior design of shoe stores and its impact on customer satisfaction. International Conference on Design (Interaction between Industrial design and Interior design).

Hefer, Y. & Cant, M. C. (2013). Visual Merchandising Displays Effect On Consumers: A Valuable Asset Or An Unnecessary Burden For Apparel Retailers. International Business & Economics Research Journal, 12(10), 1217-1224.

Jang, J. Y., Baek, E., Yoon, S. Y., & Choo, H. J. (2018). Store design: Visual complexity and consumer responses. International Journal of Design, 12(2), 105-118.

Kim, N. & Lee, H. (2021). Assessing Consumer Attention and Arousal Using Eye-Tracking Technology in Virtual Retail Environment. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 665658.


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