Tangiblizing Your Service: The Role of Visual Cues in Service E-Tailing

Yijing Li, Eric T. K. Lim, Yong Liu, Chee-Wee Tan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


While past studies have acknowledged that both tangible and intangible features reside in all goods and services, a persistent challenge for online service retailing resides in the difficultly of portraying services online due to the latter’s abstract nature. Drawing on visual rhetoric theory, we advance human facial cues and verbal anchoring as visual cues that can bolster the appeal of tangible elements embedded in the portal image of a given service, which in turn culminates in increased sales. We further examine how the effects of facial cue and verbal anchoring are moderated by consumers’ reliance on the tangible cues of the service. By employing computer vision and deep learning techniques to parse out portal images of over 299,000 local service offerings on a popular Chinese group buying site, we discovered that the presence of facial cues and the richness of verbal anchoring embedded in the portal image of a service offering significantly increase sales. Our results further illustrate that these effects are reinforced by consumers’ perceived importance of service tangibility.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 39th International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS)
Number of pages17
Place of PublicationAtlanta, GA
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
Publication date2018
ISBN (Electronic)9780996683173
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event39th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2018: Bridging the Internet of People, Data, and Things - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 13 Dec 201816 Dec 2018
Conference number: 39


Conference39th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
Internet address
SeriesProceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems


  • Service tangibility
  • Visual rhetoric
  • Deep learning
  • Computer vision

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