An Exploratory Study on the Components of Visual Merchandising of Internet Shopping Mall

인터넷쇼핑몰의 VMD 구성요인에 대한 탐색적 연구

  • Kim, Kwang-Seok (BK21, Department of Business Administration, Pusan National University) ;
  • Shin, Jong-Kuk (Department of Business Administration, Pusan National University) ;
  • Koo, Dong-Mo (Department of Business Administration, Kyungpook National University)
  • Published : 2008.06.30


This study is to empirically examine the primary dimensions of visual merchandising (VMD) of internet shopping mall, namely store design, merchandise, and merchandising cues, to be a attractive virtual store to the shoppers. The authors reviewed the literature related to the major components of VMD from the perspective of the AIDA model, which has been mainly applied to the offline store settings. The major purposes of the study are as follows; first, tries to derive the variables related with the components of visual merchandising through reviewing the existing literatures, establish the hypotheses, and test it empirically. Second, examines the relationships between the components of VMD and the attitude toward the VMD, however, putting more emphasis on finding out the component structure of the VMD. VMD needs to be examined with the perspective that an online shopping mall is a virtual self-service or clerkless store, which could reduce the number of employees, help the shoppers search, evaluate and purchase for themselves, and to be explored in terms of the in-store persuasion processes of customers. This study reviewed the literatures related to store design, merchandise, and merchandising cues which might be relevant to the store, product, and promotion respectively. VMD is a total communication tool, and AIDA model could explain the in-store consumer behavior of online shopping. Store design has to do with triggering a consumer attention to the online mall, merchandise with a product related interest, and merchandising cues with promotions such as recommendation and links that induce the desire to pruchase. These three steps might be seen as the processes for purchase actions. The theoretical rationale for the relationship between VMD and AIDA could be found in Tyagi(2005) that the three steps of consumer-oriented merchandising are a store, a product assortment, and placement, in Omar(1999) that three types of interior display are a architectural design display, commodity display, and point-of-sales(POS) display, and in Davies and Ward(2005) that the retail store interior image is related to an atmosphere, merchandise, and in-store promotion. Lee et al(2000) suggested as the web merchandising components a merchandising cues, a shopping metaphor which is an assistant tool for search, a store design, a layout(web design), and a product assortment. The store design which includes differentiation, simplicity and navigation is supposed to be related to the attention to the virtual store. Second, the merchandise dimensions comprising product assortments, visual information and product reputation have to do with the interest in the product offerings. Finally, the merchandising cues that refer to merchandiser(MD)'s recommendation of products and providing the hyperlinks to relevant goods for the shopper is concerned with attempt to induce the desire to purchase. The questionnaire survey was carried out to collect the data about the consumers who would shop at internet shopping malls frequently. To select the subject malls, the mall ranking data announced by a mall rating agency was used to differentiate the most popular and least popular five mall each. The subjects was instructed to answer the questions after navigating the designated mall for five minutes. The 300 questionnaire was distributed to the consumers, 166 samples were used in the final analysis. The empirical testing focused on identifying and confirming the dimensionality of VMD and its subdimensions using a structural equation modeling method. The confirmatory factor analysis for the endogeneous and exogeneous variables was carried out in four parts. The second-order factor analysis was done for a store design, a merchandise, and a merchandising cues, and first-order confirmatory factor analysis for the attitude toward the VMD. The model test results shows that the chi-square value of structural equation is 144.39(d.f 49), significant at 0.01 level which means the proposed model was rejected. But, judging from the ratio of chi-square value vs. degree of freedom, the ratio was 2.94 which smaller than an acceptable level of 3.0, RMR is 0.087 which is higher than a generally acceptable level of 0.08. GFI and AGFI is turned out to be 0.90 and 0.84 respectively. Both NFI and NNFI is 0.94, and CFI 0.95. The major test results are as follows; first, the second-order factor analysis and structural equational modeling reveals that the differentiation, simplicity and ease of identifying current status of the transaction are confirmed to be subdimensions of store design and to be a significant predictors of the dependent variable. This result implies that when designing an online shopping mall, it is necessary to differentiate visually from other malls to improve the effectiveness of the communications of store design. That is, the differentiated store design raise the contrast stimulus to sensory organs to promote the memory of the store and to have a favorable attitude toward the VMD of a store. The results that navigation which means the easiness of identifying current status of shopping affects the attitude to VMD could be interpreted that the navigating processes via the hyperlinks which is characteristics of an internet shopping is a complex and cognitive process and shoppers are likely to lack the sense of overall structure of the store. Consequently, shoppers are likely to be alost amid shopping not knowing where to go. The orientation tool enhance the accessibility of information to raise the perceptive power about the store environment.(Titus & Everett 1995) Second, the primary dimension of merchandise and its subdimensions was confirmed to be unidimensional respectively, have a construct validity, and nomological validity which the VMD dimensions supposed to have a positive correlation with the dependent variable. The subdimensions of product assortment, brand fame and information provision proved to have a positive effect on the attitude toward the VMD. It could be interpreted that the more plentiful the product and brand assortment of the mall is, the more likely the shoppers to favor it. Brand fame and information provision as well affect the VMD attitude, which means that the more famous the brand, the more likely the shoppers would trust and feel familiar with the mall, and the plentifully and visually presented information could have the shopper have a favorable attitude toward the store VMD. Third, it turned out to be that merchandising cue of product recommendation and hyperlinks affect the VMD attitude. This could be interpreted that recommended products could reduce the uncertainty related with the purchase decision, and the hyperlinks to relevant products would help the shopper save the cognitive effort exerted into the information search and gathering, which could lead to a favorable attitude to the VMD. This study tried to sheds some new light on the VMD of online store by reviewing the variables mentioned to be relevant with offline VMD in the existing literatures, and tried to link the VMD components from the perspective of AIDA model. The effect size of the VMD dimensions on the attitude was in the order of the merchandise, the store design and the merchandising cues.It is said that an internet has an unlimited place for display, however, the virtual store is not unlimited since the consumer has a limited amount of cognitive ability to process the external information and internal memory. Particularly, the shoppers are likely to face some difficulties in decision making on account of too many alternative and information overloads. Therefore, the internet shopping mall manager should take into consideration the cost of information search on the part of the consumer, to establish the optimal product placements and search routes. An efficient store composition would be possible by reducing the psychological burdens and cognitive efforts exerted to information search and alternatives evaluation. The store image is in most part determined by the product category and its brand it deals in. The results of this study support this proposition that the merchandise is most important to the VMD attitude than other components, the manager is required to take a strategic approach to VMD. The internet users are getting more accustomed and more knowledgeable about the internet media and more likely to accept the internet as a shopping channel as the period of time during which they use the internet to shop become longer. The web merchandiser should be aware that the product introduction using a moving pictures and a bulletin board become more important in order to present the interactive product information visually and communicate with customers more actively, therefore leading to making the quantity and quality of product information more rich.