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.
- Augmented reality
- Customer frontline experience
- Mental imagery
- Processing fluency
- Word-of-mouth intentions