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Need for touch and two-way communication in e-commerce

Yun Jung Lee (Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Adelphi University, Garden City, New York, USA)
Sujin Yang (Department of Living Culture and Consumer Science, Sungshin Women’s University, Seoul, South Korea)
Zachary Johnson (Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Adelphi University, Garden City, New York, USA)

Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing

ISSN: 2040-7122

Article publication date: 10 September 2017




The inability to touch products online is the top reason consumers list for preferring to shop in traditional brick and mortar versus e-commerce stores (Havas Worldwide, 2013). Need for touch (NFT) comprises autotelic and instrumental motives, which, respectively, relate to enjoyment and utility. This study aimed to examine how consumers’ NFT motives affect loyalty intentions toward e-commerce websites, both directly and as mediated by consumers’ level of technology acceptance (ease of use, enjoyment and perceived usefulness [PU]). The moderating effect of synchronous versus asynchronous two-way communication with sellers on the relationships among consumers’ NFT, acceptance of technology and loyalty intention was also examined.


An online survey was conducted among consumers who had shopped from popular e-commerce websites chosen by this study within the 12 months prior to data collection.


Both types of NFT motives affected loyalty and technology acceptance. Specifically, autotelic NFT positively impacted perceived ease of use (PEOU) and perceived enjoyment (PE), whereas instrumental NFT negatively impacted PEOU, PE and loyalty intentions. Among the technology acceptance variables, PU had the strongest effect on loyalty intention. Tests of moderation revealed that high-quality, text-based synchronous communication (i.e. live chatting) with sellers can compensate for both autotelic and instrumental NFT.


This research shows how the inherent inability of e-commerce to meet consumers’ NFT stymies consumers’ e-commerce acceptance and affects their loyalty toward online retailers and examines strategies that e-commerce sites can use to compensate for this need.



Lee, Y.J., Yang, S. and Johnson, Z. (2017), "Need for touch and two-way communication in e-commerce", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 341-360.



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