Diana Hassouneh, Malaika Brengman Department of Business
Retailing in 3D virtual environments, including social virtual worlds (SVWs), is considered an evolution of the traditional web store, offering advantages and an improved shopping experience to the customer. Although studies concerning retailing and store design in SVWs are starting to emerge, only one thus far dealt specifically with virtual store atmospherics. While this previous study proved that atmospherics are applicable in virtual stores, it didn’t actually specify the different elements making up these atmospheric factors, nor described how they are being used in SVW stores. The current paper comes to fill this gap by investigating the atmospherics in 27 virtual stores in Second Life (SL). By means of deductive content analysis, and building upon atmospheric classifications in traditional and online stores, the paper proposes a typology for virtual store atmospherics. The proposed typology can present a framework which can be used to further investigate the impact of specific virtual store atmospherics on in-world shopper behavior as well as on the performance of metaverse retailers and thus guide future research on metaverse retailing. The current study also has important managerial implications, not only to virtual world retailers, but also to retailers of the other channels who can learn about new ways to differentiate their in-store experience.