The factors that affect whether a visiting avatar spends money in a small shop versus a large store is similar in some aspects within virtual worlds, but also different in other ways when compared to the real world. One example of differences is the price paid for a product. Unlike the real world, large stores do not have the advantage of purchasing products in volume in which the lower price can be passed onto consumers because copyable items (or items sold through an affiliate vendor) has a near non-exist cost associated with them once the initial product is created.
However, the similarities between virtual and real world retail locations does include the square footage advantages as well as increased prim allowances which can result in a wide product offering as well as demonstration products that are rezzed more often than not. Large stores with their expansive space means that products are more likely to be sold via individual product vendors rather than a vendor with navigation arrows used to browse products like a catalog. Having more products visible at a time can also psychologically increase the chances of impulse shopping which can only benefit the bottom line.
Larger parcels also allows demonstration models to be either permanently or semi-permanantly rezzed so that the visitor can interact with and inspect the product instead of just looking at pictures or watching a video. Even though more prims are available, permanantly rezzed items tend to be the less-prim items and more of them while the semi- permanantly items will have a space set aside for them to be made available via a temporary rezzer that does not count against the static prim allotment.
The purpose of theming a location is a form of multi-sensory marketing intended for the visitor to potentially leave their every day own world behind without having to travel very far. Examples of themed areas might be indoors (i.e. a dance club featuring pirates and ships or a performance area such as a stage telling a story), outdoors (i.e. oversized plants in an amusement park that reduces the relative size of tourists to ants), and even underwater (i.e. a submarine ride that passes by sharks and tallking fish) through the use of music, lighting, props, and smells.
The tempo of the music and sound effects can set the mood of a themed area such as ghostly sounds in a cemetery scene or whimsical tunes in a cartoon area. Colored lights can also contribute towards the sensory experience which is the case when lightning strikes appear randomly in front of the visitor while drops of water fall onto them to simulate a rain storm. Finally, props are the most common elements of a themed area and are most effective when they are unique and memorable only at that particular location. Props should be time-period consistent with the intended theme and contribute towards telling the story without overwhelming the visitor nor saturating the area.
The use of props should enhance the intended focus of the area and not detract from it such as the case when large props improperly positioned or are overlapping each other. Questions such as why a particular prop is being used should be asked throughout the setup and/or performance time to determine whether that particular prop is really needed. Observation of the initial visitors are key in determining the effectiveness of a prop as their visit time and actions (i.e. are they distracted with personal tasks such as instant messaging with others or interacting with the props) should provide sufficient clues whether the excess or lack of proper theming has occurred.