Online Experiences: Flow Theory, Measuring Online Customer Experience in e-Commerce and Managerial Implications for the Lodging Industry
The past decade has perceived a significant development of various Internet technologies including HTML5, Ajax, landing pages, CSS3, social media and SEO to name a few. New web technologies provide opportunities for e-commerce companies to enhance the shopping experiences of their customers. This article focuses the phenomenon of online experiences from a services marketing aspect by concentrating online hotel booking. Successful lodging management strategies have been associated with the creation of experience, which in turn leads to fruitful performance outcomes such as superior financial performance, enhanced brand image, customer loyalty, positive word of mouth and customer satisfaction. E-commerce researchers and practitioners also focus on the phenomenon of online customer experiences. Plentiful of previous studies investigated the precursors and consequences of positive online customer experiences by utilizing various marketing and Information Systems theories, and it was found that online customer experience has numerous positive outcomes for e-commerce companies. This study analyses the previous studies on customer experiences by utilizing flow theory and develops a conceptual framework of customer experiences. Later it proposes and tests a measurement model for online customer experiences. Our findings indicate that for successful e-commerce practices, online shoppers need to reach a state of mind where they engage with the website with total involvement, concentration and enjoyment. The traditional approaches to attract customers in brick-and-mortar commerce are not applicable in online contexts. Therefore, interaction, participation, co-creation, immersion, engagement and emotional hooks are important in e-commerce. Managerial and theoretical implications of positive online customer experiences were discussed.