Introduction to Atmosphere in Web Retailing

What you’ll learn to do: Use nonstore-retailing atmospheric principles to analyze current web retailers

Consider Macy’s, Kohl’s, and JC Penney. They are three huge names in retail. Two of the three of them are over a hundred years old. They’ve withstood the test of time by changing when they needed to, adapting to customers’ needs and behaviors. And yet, for two of the three, their sales are declining year over year:

a graph showing an overall decline in sales for Macy's, Khol's, and JC Penny from 2008 to 2017. In 2017, revenue for Macy's was about 26 billion, Khol's was about 18 Billion, and JC Penny's was about 12.5 Billion., on the other hand, is enjoying a little bit of prosperity…

Revenue at Amazon from 2007 to 2017 shows an increase in sales from around 20 billion in 2009 to 140 billion in 2017.

Some industry experts predict that brick-and-mortar retail is going to disappear as customers take more and more of their business online. In reality, it’s not likely that brick-and-mortar will disappear. But it’s sure going to change.’s market capitalization is at $400 billion, nearly twice that of its closest competitor, Wal-mart. More than half of shoppers making retail purchases are doing so online, and a good many of them on their smartphones. A 2016 survey indicated that 96% of Americans are shopping online and they allocate 36% of their shopping budget to ecommerce platforms.[1] Ecommerce is not a trend that’s going away.

Owners of brick-and-mortar stores are considering ecommerce to support their current business, to attract that elusive customer too busy to come into the store. Other retailers, like JC Penney, Lowe’s and Home Depot, are adding buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) options to appeal to the shopper that has immediate needs and very little time. And of course, some businesses are just ecommerce platforms, completing transactions in cyberspace and shipping purchases from warehouses.

Regardless of the approach, an ecommerce platform has to be built with customer behaviors in mind. Just like a brick-and-mortar store, a website must provide an engaging and convenient shopping experience in order to be successful.

In this section, we’re going to take a look at how websites employ some of those visual-merchandising type techniques to draw in customers.