Do Handwritten Notes Benefit Online Retailers? A Field Experiment

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Despite the technological advances in online retailing, the human touch continues to be essential to relationships between retailers and customers. Although a handwritten note is proposed as a simple means to help establish a personal relationship, its economic significance and alignment with current practices have been insufficiently studied. In this article, the authors evaluate the benefits of a handwritten note for an online retailer and reveal the boundary conditions of its benefits. A randomized field experiment demonstrates that presenting a handwritten note has a positive and significant effect on customer spending. More importantly, the authors observe that an additional marketing incentive (i.e., giveaway, price discount) attenuates this beneficial effect. Further, the study shows that these two effects arise with loyal customers, but not with nonloyal customers. A follow-up experiment reveals that warmth underlies the key findings, lending support for the theoretical prediction. The article concludes with a general discussion that the authors hope will inspire future research on relationship management in online retailing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-664
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Interactive Marketing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Marketing Association 2022.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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