Editor’s Introduction 15(2)

Editor’s Introduction
Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 15 Number 2, Winter 2010-11, pp. 5.

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a business strategy designed to acquire and manage relationships with customers in such a way as to maximize the long-term value of such relationships. Among the aspects of CRM are: an integrated view of the customer and of the customer’s interaction with the company, a relational (rather than transactional) attitude toward the customer with the long-term view prevailing, an individualized approach to customers based on information garnered from business intelligence, projection of the customer’s value to the firm, and analysis of noncustomers and the reasons that they are not customers [1]. CRM goes well beyond implementing a specific software application.However, in implementing electronic CRM (eCRM), firms seek to leverage information technology to achieve these objectives. Obviously, eCRM is highly reliant on data-intensive information systems (IS). Large firms generally implement specialized CRM software, with the trend toward the use of software as a service (SaaS) gaining strength. Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), on the other hand, predominantly rely on more generic technologies for such purposes, as is analyzed by the authors of the first paper in this issue. Paul Harrigan and his colleagues investigate how SMEs use widely available Web technologies, along with rather simple applications, to achieve eCRM capabilities. In an empirical work, the authors identify a set of eCRM capabilities that smaller firms are able to develop using generic and simple technologies that lead to performance benefits and help them create lasting relationships with customers and to compete. This research should be continued, as ever-newer social networking technologies offer additional possibilities to nimble smaller firms.

It has been a truism since the emergence of e-commerce that risks abound. While many analyses of various risks have been carried out, there has been a need for an integrated model of transaction risks. Steven Glover and Izak Benbasat present and test such an integrated framework, well grounded theoretically and leading to a set of action recommendations. A broad acculturation to e-commerce attenuates the perceptions of certain categories of risk, while the new frontiers of social webs, combined with the cumulating massive data on consumer behaviors and the vast processing power of servers, amplify other categories. The integrated model presented here will allow the continuing study of these risks and, one hopes, of countermeasures.

One of the inherent risks of e-commerce is the sale of counterfeit products. Tamilla Mavlanova and Raquel Benbunan-Fich deploy a theory of deception and signaling theory to study empirically the mechanisms counterfeiters deploy to mask the true nature of their products and of their business enterprises. The study conceptualizes the tactics of masking and mimicking, and surfaces several signals that consumers can quite easily watch for in order to avoid being duped. The work contributes to the research stream on trust in e-commerce.

Trust building is also investigated in the next paper, albeit toward positive ends. Grounding their work in the elaboration likelihood model of attitude change, Martina E. Greiner and Hui Wang study people-to-people lending marketplaces. The authors identify the trust-building mechanisms that lending sites can implement and lenders can use to assess the creditworthiness of borrowers. The pragmatic implications of the work are obvious because unmediated exchanges among people are on the rise.

On-line communities have become major loci of consumer involvement in e-commerce. There is continuing interest in the questions of what motivates participants to join these communities and what are the consequences of their joining. In the concluding paper of the issue, Luis V. Casaló, Carlos Flavián, and Miguel Guinalíu answer these questions in the context of travel communities. The authors use the theories of relational capital and IS continuance to determine the predictors of participation. Perhaps at least equally important both to future researchers and to site operators, the authors also study the consequences of participation in terms of the participants following the advice of the group and using its products.


  1. Zwass, V. Series editor’s introduction. In J. Fjermestad and N.C. Romano Jr. (eds.), Electronic Customer Relationship Management, Advances in Management Information Systems, vol. 3. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2006, pp. vii-xi.