Editor’s Introduction 16(3)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 16, Number 3, Spring 2012, pp. 5-6.

The five papers of this IJEC issue investigate various aspects of consumer-oriented e-commerce. The first of them, by Jung Seek Kim and Brian T. Ratchford, shows the rapid increase in the use of online sources, compared to the time spent with the dealer, for the more persistent searchers in the automobile marketplace in the United States. As a result of an econometric longitudinal study, the authors are able to ascribe this effect in a large measure to the efficiency of the Web search. Younger, more educated buyers are the prime participants in this shift. Considering that these younger buyers will take over the marketplace, the shift may be expected to intensify and to have consequences for the allocation of advertising funds and the role of and employment at dealerships. It would be good to see a follow-up to this nuanced study with important implications in even wider settings.

Aurélie Merle, Sylvain Senecal, and Anik St-Onge investigate the effectiveness of the virtual try-on in eliciting consumer response on apparel Web sites. As a result of laboratory experimentation, the researchers find that this influence is not automatic. Personalization of the virtual models is necessary to achieve a resemblance to the potential consumer. The authors introduce the constructs of body esteem and perceived self-congruity in modeling the antecedents to the utilitarian and hedonic values derived by the shopper. The results are obviously relevant to the practice in this broad market segment.

We now know full well that there is a significant price dispersion in e-tail. Some of it results from the shipping costs, which is also not always explicitly stated. Tanja Frischmann, Oliver Hinz, and Bernd Skiera explore e-tailers’ strategies in charging for shipping. Some of them offer “free” shipping and build the shipping cost into the price, while relying on the positive bias for the “free.” Others charge a partitioned price that explicitly includes the shipping charge. Using an extensive data set from a price comparison site, the authors find that the consumers do best when a moderate explicit shipping charge is leveled.

A comprehensive model of piracy risk as perceived by consumers is presented in the next paper. Bong-Keun Jeong, Kexin Zhao, and Moutaz Khouja ground their work in the perceived risk theory and set it in the familiar context of music piracy. The authors validate their model deploying student subjects, apt here as widely recognized for their familiarity with the issue. The relative importance of various risk components is certainly of interest. The outcome of the work, a multidimensional construct of consumer piracy risk, will be helpful in addressing this persistent problem in the future.

To conclude on a strong note, the paper by Yung-Ming Li, Yi-Lin Lee, and Nine-Jun Lien proposes and studies an interesting scheme for advertising on social networking sites by using the endorsers who are influential within the particular site. The novel approach is grounded in the theory of social influence and in the recognized effects of celebrity endorsers. The authors combine endorser discovery with user feedback after endorsement. The experiments the authors conduct with a Facebook application using their approach shows its superiority within the setting. This intriguing approach to advertising, which relies on the specific capabilities of social media, deserves further study.

It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome the new members of the IJEC Editorial Board: J.P. Allen (University of San Francisco), Karl R. Lang (City University of New York), Harrison McKnight (Michigan State University), Brian T. Ratchford (University of Texas at Dallas), and Bernd Skiera (University of Frankfurt). My thanks are extended to the outgoing members of the Board: Janis L. Gogan, Thorsten Hennig-Thurau, and Simha R. Magal. My special thanks go to Simha, the long-serving editor of our Web site. We are all happy to welcome J.P. Allen as our new Web site editor.