A Touching Experience: Designing for Touch Sensations in Online Retail Environments
Suzanne Overmars, Karolien Poels


Optimizing the product experience in a mediated environment, where the multisensory experience is limited, is a challenge many designers of online retail environments face today. In this study we aim to identify product presentation design elements that appeal to the sense of touch and therefore affect the extent to which the displayed product can be experienced emotionally. An experimental approach was adopted to examine whether two online product presentation formats (i.e., static interface, interactive interface) that vary in their ability to generate touch sensations influence emotional responses toward the product differently. First, the results show that an interface using image interactivity to simulate stroking gestures provokes more positive emotional responses and suppresses negative emotional responses relative to an interface using static pictures. Then, moderation analyses demonstrate that the individual’s level of hedonic urge to seek enjoyment and fun through touch (i.e., autotelic NFT) is a boundary condition for these effects to occur. Individuals who are high in autotelic NFT, in particular, are responsive to the consequences of an interactive interface. Moreover, bringing the online tactual product experience closer to reality may appeal to a new group of online consumers, which is an important finding for web designers to attend to.

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