Editor’s Introduction 11(4)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 11, Number 4, Summer 2007, pp. 5.

In completing the eleventh volume of IJEC, this issue brings to you a set of papers that investigate key determinants of consumer-oriented e-commerce. Culture, community, on-line pricing, and word-of-mouth marketing are among the most salient aspects of the new environment, and they are antecedents of success or failure for business pursuits in it. The researchers whose work has been included in this issue bring a variety of methodological approaches to deliver insights rooted in recognized warrants of truth.

M-commerce is the present and very broad frontier of e-commerce evolution. The authors of the first paper of the issue, Inseong Lee, Boreum Choi, Jinwoo Kim, and Se-Joon Hong, study the influence of national culture on the perception of mobile Internet services by the users who have adopted these services. Cultivating positive perceptions by adopters is necessary to engender continuing use, loyalty, and the broadening of the initial relationship. This makes the study important in fostering m-commerce. The authors build a theory-rooted model of culture-technology fit and obtain results that show how cultural lenses influence adopters’ perceptions of mobile technologies. Although the model has been exercised in three Asian cultures, analysts of cultural differences know that countries that look culturally similar to outsiders do in fact differ on the key dimensions [1].

The communitarian features of commercial Web sites have been known since the inception of e-commerce as major determinants of their success. However, business and communitarian goals can be at odds. Linda Macaulay and her colleagues use the case-study method to obtain a thick description of the co-evolution of a virtual community and a business on a Web site. The authors find three clusters of users with varying needs with respect to the coexistence that should desirably turn into a mutually reinforcing relationship. Based on the analysis, the authors derive an extended framework of such co-evolution. The importance to analysts and practitioners of Web site design and nurturing is apparent.

With the advent of e-commerce, product pricing, and, in particular, the pricing of digital products, has received massive and well-deserved attention, because skillful pricing is often a critical success factor. Both the structure of the prices and the processes surrounding their determination and evolution have changed radically with the Web-based opportunities. In the context of a massively multiplayer on-line game as the product, Fred Zufryden describes a virtual-store experiment aimed at establishing consumer responses to the prices for various product options. Several scenarios deploy marketing models that, in their interaction with the prospective customers, surface the optimal prices for these options early in the product design. The paper offers a proof of concept for a novel, inexpensive, and highly reproducible approach to strategic pricing. In addition, such early feedback can influence the product design.

Price dispersion in e-tail is an acknowledged and well-researched fact. The question remains: Will the future bring us closer to fulfillment of the early expectations of uniform and low prices on the Web? In the absence of any opportunity to study the future, Gee-Woo Bock, Sang-Yong Tom Lee, and Hai Ying Li study the prices in two on-line markets, China and the United States, at starkly different maturity stages. Quite interestingly, the researchers find the dispersion of prices posted by U.S. e-tailers to be lower. They also find that the prices charged by pure e-tailers in both markets are lower than those of multichannel retailers. As on-line markets mature, we are certain to see–and be able to analyze–further developments in the pricing arena. Past forecasts may still be a prelude to the future.

The active role of consumers in shaping products and markets has been on a steep rise, in a large degree with the advent of the Internet-Web compound. The Web is a forum accessible to all, with the ever-emerging means of presentation, aggregation, and amplification of the vox populi. On-line consumer reviews are an important genre of word-of-mouth. Do-Hyung Park, Jumin Lee, and Ingoo Han study empirically the effects of such reviews. More specifically, the authors study how the degree of interest of potential consumers influences the effect on them of reviews posted by others. In other words, what influences me in the reviews I read if I care a lot (say, buying a camera) or little (say, looking for a new line of office supplies) about the product I am planning to buy? There are interesting conclusions here from a fine-grained analysis for future researchers and marketers.

At the completion of another volume of IJEC, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the journal’s referees, the primary guarantors of its preeminent status in e-commerce scholarship. Here are the IJEC referees.

1. Hampton-Turner, C., and Trompenaars, A. The Seven Cultures of Capitalism: Value Systems for Creating Wealth in the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands. New York: Currency Doubleday, 1993.