To immerse or not? Experimenting with two virtual retail environments

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Information Technology & People

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Emerald Publishing Limited


Simulation, Online shopping, E-commerce (B2B/B2C/B2G/G2C), Virtual world


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the determinants of users’ simulated experience in a virtual store and to show the subsequent impact of that experience on engagement. The outcome of that engagement is examined in relation to enjoyment, satisfaction and purchase intentions.

Design/methodology/approach: The method comprised an experiment comparing users’ perceptions of a standard 2D online clothing store with an enhanced, immersive one that aimed to provide shopping value approaching that of a traditional store by using a 3D experience where participants wore special glasses and a data glove.

Findings: Results demonstrate the major role of telepresence components in simulated experience and the critical role of that experience, along with hedonic and utilitarian values, in engagement. Purchase intention is influenced by satisfaction, which is in turn influenced by enjoyment and engagement. Engagement in turn is influenced by utilitarian and hedonic value and the experience of product simulation or telepresence, which is composed of control, colour and graphics vividness, and 3D authenticity. In the immersive, 3D environment, experience is more associated with engagement and enjoyment, leading to greater purchase intention. The immersive, 3D environment, thus, has the potential to rival traditional shopping in terms of experience, resulting in higher sales for retailers and satisfaction for consumers.

Originality/value: This work has evaluated a robust model of purchase intention and demonstrated it to hold not only in a 3D environment on a conventional computer platform, but also in an immersive one, where participants wear special glasses and a data glove.



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Funding Information

The work described in this paper was partially supported by a grant from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China (Project No. G-YBE4). {G-YBE4}

Publisher Statement

Copyright © Savvas Papagiannidis, Eleonora Pantano, Eric See-To, Charles Dennis, Michael Bourlakis 2017 Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial & non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors.

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Recommended Citation

Papagiannidis, S., Pantano, E., See-To, E. W. K., Dennis, C., & Bourlakis, M. (2017). To immerse or not? Experimenting with two virtual retail environments. Information Technology & People, 30(1), 163-188. doi: 10.1108/ITP-03-2015-0069