Designing attractive stores: How the spatial layout of physical stores affects consumers’ responses

Kunalai Ploydanai

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


The spatial layout of a physical store can be exploited as a marketing tool to enhance consumers’ expectations of store, motivate store visits and shape consumers’ purchasing choices (Bitner, 1992; Kotler, 1973). Designing an attractive and efficient spatial layout is challenging because of limited available knowledge about the effects of layout designs. This thesis establishes the first step to systematically disentangle the impacts of the store’s spatial layout, especially store layout design and merchandise layout, on consumers’ expectations, intention to visit the store, and purchasing choices. Two formats of virtual reality (SketchUp 3D modeling program and virtual store) have been applied to manipulate the store’s spatial layout (store layout design and merchandise layout) and to provide close-to-reality shopping environments for participants.

The finding manifests that perceived orderliness and perceived complexity are potential abstract attributes providing a better understanding of the impacts of store layout design on consumers’ responses than either the typology of the grid and free-from layouts or the concrete attributes of store layout design (e.g. length, shape and orientation of shelves). The thesis also shows that perceived orderliness should receive the most attention when designing the store layout because it brings positive expectations of shopping efficiency, shopping enjoyment, store image and intention to visit the store. Parallel and playful orientations should be employed to enhance perceived orderliness, whereas random orientation should be avoided. Moreover, we found evidence to support the moderating role of shopping motivation in the impacts of store layout design on intention to visit the store. However, it remains inconclusive whether shopping motivation moderates the underlying process (indirect effects), the direct effects of store layout, or both.

In terms of merchandise layout, this thesis reveals the relationship between merchandise layout (location of snacks) and self-control depletion measured by the impairment on a subsequent self-control task. It is found that self-control impairment occurs even after making a small number of choices in a day-to-day shopping reality. This implies that placing snacks at the end likely leads to self-control impairment because consumers would make more prior choices before reaching that spot. However, this thesis finds inconclusive effects of merchandise layout (or self-control depletion) and inconclusive interactions effects of merchandise layout and trait self-control on snack purchases in the supermarket. Despite the inconclusive results, this thesis underpins opportunities and challenges for future research on the effects of the spatial layout of physical stores on consumers’ responses and product choices. Moreover, the guideline of employing a virtual store to investigate consumers’ in-store behaviors presented in this thesis can help researchers advance the research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • van Trijp, Hans, Promotor
  • van Herpen, Erica, Co-promotor
Award date1 Jul 2019
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463439589
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


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