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Touching the void: Exploring consumer perspectives on touch-enabling technologies in online retailing

Helena Van Kerrebroeck (Department of Business, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium)
Kim Willems (Department of Business, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium) (Department of Marketing and Strategy, Hasselt University, Hasselt, Belgium)
Malaika Brengman (Department of Business, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 10 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

A major factor hampering the continuing and explosive rise of e-commerce, particularly for experience goods, is the lack of tactile information that could help to reduce uncertainty in consumer purchase decision making online. The purpose of this paper is to identify the specific touch-related properties worthwhile to enable in online retailing and the type of customer value that can be provided, as well as the drivers and barriers for consumer acceptance toward touch-enabling technologies for online shopping.

Design/methodology/approach

By means of consumer focus groups, the authors address the research questions regarding touch-related properties, their value to consumers, and the drivers and barriers for consumer acceptance by taking into consideration two specific touch-enabling technologies.

Findings

The study reveals that touch-enabling technologies can provide utilitarian and hedonic value to consumers, mainly at the pre-purchase stages in the path-to-purchase. Valuable applications conceived by consumers primarily pertain to offering information on material and geometric product properties. A hurdle for consumer adoption seems to be the necessity of a dedicated output device, such as a glove.

Research limitations/implications

Due to the early development stage of the new technologies under investigation, this study is exploratory in nature. The findings should be validated in the future, once these technologies actually get introduced for online marketing purposes.

Practical implications

This study aims to raise awareness among online retailers about marketing opportunities comprised of touch-enabling technology.

Originality/value

The authors provide a first outlook with regard to future consumer acceptance of touch-enabling technologies in online shopping and how and when such technologies can provide consumer value.

Keywords

Citation

Van Kerrebroeck, H., Willems, K. and Brengman, M. (2017), "Touching the void: Exploring consumer perspectives on touch-enabling technologies in online retailing", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 45 No. 7/8, pp. 892-909. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRDM-09-2016-0156

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited