Touching the untouchable: exploring multi-sensory augmented reality in the context of online retailing

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


Mental intangibility during product evaluation remains one of the greatest drawbacks for online purchasing. However, emerging multi-sensory Augmented Reality (m-AR) applications offer a potential solution for this online retailing problem. Drawing on active inference theory, this article proposes a conceptual framework to assess how sensory control and feedback modalities affect consumer value judgements by reducing mental intangibility. We show how touch control, compared to voice control, positively affects consumers’ willingness-to-pay. The underlying mechanism is a sequential process of reduced mental intangibility and increased feeling of decision comfort. In addition, we highlight a positive moderating effect of congruent auditory feedback on decision comfort. We also demonstrate a novel consumer boundary condition. Consumers high in assessment orientation experience a stronger reduction in mental intangibility. The results are consistently replicated across three experiments implying theoretical and managerial contributions for m-AR in the context of online retailing.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Retailing
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)219-234
Publication statusPublished - 07.12.2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • multi-sensory augmented reality
  • active inference
  • mental intangibility
  • decision comfort
  • assessment orientation

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Competition economics and service strategy - Service and customer-oriented management


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