Let Me Imagine That for You: Transforming the Retail Frontline Through Augmenting Customer Mental Imagery Ability

Jonas Heller*, Mathew Chylinski, Ko de Ruyter, Dominik Mahr, Debbie I. Keeling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

162 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The rapid development of augmented reality (AR) is reshaping retail frontline operations by enhancing the offline and online customer experience. Drawing on mental imagery theory, this paper develops a conceptual framework to reflect how AR emulates customer's cognitive processes offloading those to the technology. Consequently, the AR-enabled frontline improves decision comfort, motivates positive WOM and facilitates choice of higher value products. The underlying mechanism is a sequential mediation via improved processing fluency and decision comfort. The findings also demonstrate boundary conditions of customers’ visual processing styles and product contextuality. Object-visualisers benefit more from AR induced imagery processes, and the effect of processing fluency on customer decision comfort is moderated by product contextuality. The results are verified with repeat studies to control for novelty of AR, and a field study that highlights the impact of AR on customers’ choice and spending. We discuss implications for theory and practice of AR-enabled frontline retailing.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Retailing
Volume95
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)94-114
Number of pages21
ISSN0022-4359
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed

Keywords

  • 512 Business and Management
  • Augmented reality
  • Customer frontline experience
  • Mental imagery
  • Processing fluency
  • Word-of-mouth intentions

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