Previous studies have extensively illustrated that in order to obtain consumers’ e-loyalty, online retailers need to provide their consumers with superior values (e.g., Levenburg, 2005; Rafiq, Fulford, & Lu, 2013). In an effort to understand how value can be enhanced in online retailing and to gain customers’ e-loyalty, researchers have placed considerable importance on the concept of perceived value investigation and on the influence of perceived value on consumers’ e-loyalty (Cronin, Brady, & Hult, 2000). Research findings have suggested that once perceived value is created, consumers will develop a favorable attitude towards online retailers leading to e-loyalty (Rafiq et al., 2013). However, the question of how consumers’ perceived value is created has not been comprehended yet. Previous studies have investigated various psychological factors, such as perceived quality and perceived risk that serve antecedents of perceived value (e.g., Gounaris, Dimitriadis, & Stathakopoulos, 2010; Liong, Arif, Tat, Rasli, & Jusoh, 2011; Mishra & Mathew, 2013). However, business strategies that could directly drive consumers’ perceived value have not been sufficiently demonstrated either in the traditional settings or within e-commerce context (Dong, Zhang, & Yang, 2009). Furthermore, perceived value as a single construct has been well defined and examined, but applying it as a multi-dimensional construct and investigating the strategy effectiveness for creating each dimension of the perceived value is an interesting question that remains unanswered (Chiu, Hsieh, & Li, 2005).
This study aims to investigate the process of online retailers’ bonding strategies and how these strategies have enhanced consumers’ perceived values as well as the subsequent e-loyalty by introducing the social capital perspective. Three types of bonding strategies are investigated in this study: financial bonding, social bonding and structural bonding. Four dimensions of perceived value are examined; they are price value, social value, emotional value and quality value. This study aims to identify effective bonding strategies for each of the value creation processes.
Based on Mehrabian and Russell’s (1974) Stimulus-Organism-Response (S-O-R) framework, a research model with nine hypotheses was proposed. The effectiveness of three types of bonding strategies on the four value creation processes was examined in an online scenario-based experimental study. There were eight scenarios with a total main survey sample size of 480. Data were collected through Amazon Mechanical Turk (M-Turk). Three-Way MANOVA and Structural Equation Modeling were performed to analyze the data. SPSS and LISREL were used to conduct the data analysis. The findings reveal that: (1) financial bonding strategies enhance price value and e-loyalty; (2) social bonding strategies enhance social value and e-loyalty; and (3) both social and structural bonding strategies enhance emotional value and e-loyalty.
Findings in this study extend the present body of knowledge on the perceived value construct in the Business-to-Consumer (B-to-C) relationship literature. Results of this study will help researchers better understand the effectiveness of different bonding strategies to create different dimensions of perceived value and the subsequent e-loyalty. They also provide valuable practical guidelines to online retailers in choosing the “right” strategies to enhance customers’ perceived value and e-loyalty in their online retailing practices.