Editor’s Introduction 14(4)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 14 Number 4, Summer 2010, pp. 5.

The two papers that open this issue of the Journal report on investigations of improved on-line auction mechanisms. Both studies are motivated by the recently experienced slowdown in the growth of e-auctions as well as by research results showing that the predominant auction marketplaces operate below their revenue potential.

The authors of the first empirical study, Christian Barrot, Sönke Albers, Bernd Skiera, and Björn Schäfers, compare the effectiveness of the well-known auction models with respect to eliciting bidders’ willingness to pay, which is fundamental to reaching the proper price in the face of the available demand. In the interest of realism, the authors employ a popular real-world auction setting and use an incentive-compatible mechanism of Vickrey (sealed-bid/second-price) auctions. The authors show experimentally the superiority of the Vickrey mechanism as compared to that of eBay with respect to the price revelation in the auction. These results are of clear significance to researchers and, most certainly, to auctioneers.

Roumen Vragov, Richard Di Shang, and Karl R. Lang aim to design an auction mechanism that combines the traditional auction with dynamic buy-it-now prices (rather than constant prices, as currently implemented in the major auction sites). The authors’ mechanism pursues the objective of shortening the auction time (and thus lowering the cost of the attendant delay) with those of simplicity and practicality. In a laboratory experiment, they show the significantly enhanced outcomes in such a scheme, even if the buyout price is changed only once. This is a mechanism that is also well worth exploring further, specifically in terms of the dynamics of the buyout price.
The role of market intermediaries has been, of course, challenged by the disintermediation capabilities of the Internet-Web. As we also know, myriad intermediaries have not only stood up to the challenge but also have exploited this environment to thrive. One of the values that such intermediaries offer is their market knowledge. In their paper, Jooryang Lee, Jai-Yeol Son, and Kil-Soo Suh show empirically that intermediaries’ market knowledge can improve the performance of sellers in the market. The results they report complement our extant knowledge about the role of intermediaries in serving buyers in the marketplace.

Trust in e-tailers is an important precondition of their success–and a subject of extensive research in e-commerce. Two further papers offer contributions on this issue. Muhammad Aljukhadar, Sylvain Senecal, and Denis Ouellette investigate the role of rich media in the performance of privacy disclosures on-line. Using a realistic e-store, with the privacy disclosure in video, audio, and text formats, the authors arrive experimentally at nuanced conclusions as to the effectiveness of disclosure. Social presence enabled by richer media is found to play an important role in raising the level of trust. It is well know that the handling of customer complaints is a key to the maintenance (or breach) of the buyer-seller relationship. Using an extensive survey, Cristiane Pizzutti and Daniel Fernandes study the antecedents of successful recovery from a perceived service failure. The authors identify several specific factors in complaint handling that lead to trust in and loyalty to the seller in question and the overall e-commerce enterprise.

It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome to the IJEC Editorial Board its new members: Kay-Yut Chen of Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Benedict G.C. Dellaert of Erasmus University, and Hock-Hai Teo of the National University of Singapore. I wish to recognize the contributions of the outgoing members of the Board, Sulin Ba, Paula Swatman, and Michael Wellman–thank you.