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Antecedents and consequences of flow state in e-commerce

Yun Jung Lee (Department of Decision Sciences and Marketing, Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Adelphi University, Garden City, New York, USA)
Sejin Ha (Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
Zachary Johnson (Department of Decision Sciences and Marketing, Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Adelphi University, Garden City, New York, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 21 February 2019

Issue publication date: 18 March 2019




Flow is an optimal cognitive state that enhances consumer satisfaction. This paper aims to examine the effects of website features (product- and service-related cues) on consumers’ flow experiences and how flow affects satisfaction with e-commerce.


Responses were collected from 556 respondents who had recently made purchases online. Factor analysis identified a measure of flow applicable within e-commerce. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to test hypothesized relationships between product- and service-oriented cues on flow and the influence of flow on satisfaction.


Flow experiences were favorably (unfavorably) influenced by product (service)-related cues. Of the five flow dimensions identified, three (enjoyment, goal clarity and feedback) positively affected, one (telepresence) negatively affected and one did not affect satisfaction.

Research limitations/implications

Prior research recognized the importance of flow, but its role in e-commerce was unclear, as prior e-commerce flow measures were incongruous and traditional retail findings apply inconsistently online. By empirically establishing a counterintuitive link between controllable Web features and flow and demonstrating how the dimension of flow independently affect satisfaction, the understanding of flow is advanced.

Practical implications

Understanding the influence of controllable marketing factors on flow can help e-commerce managers enhance consumers’ flow experiences and satisfaction.


Product-related cues enhanced while service-related cues degraded flow perceptions, with the later effect running contrary to traditional retail findings. The authors assert that this negative relationship is based on consumers’ use of service-related cues online, which are needed when consumers fail to find information – representing flow disruption.



Lee, Y.J., Ha, S. and Johnson, Z. (2019), "Antecedents and consequences of flow state in e-commerce", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 264-275.



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