Editor’s Introduction 17(2)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 17, Number 2, Winter 2012-13, pp. 5-6.

One of the attractions of Internet auctions in the consumer domain is the excitement of bidding—and winning. Many bidders perceive auctions as play-to-win games, as opposed to shopping episodes. Auction designs can exploit this to bring greater pleasure to the bidders and greater gains to the auctioneers. The first paper of this issue of IJEC, by Marc T.P. Adam, Jan Krämer, and Christof Weinhartd, studies the emotional aspect of auction behavior in the context of Dutch (descending) auctions. These auctions are an excellent subject for the study of emotions, since here the first click indeed wins. Using physiological measurements, the authors show that the excitement experienced by the bidders actually determines the price levels in these auctions. Through the arousal mechanisms, the clock speed influences the duration of the auctions as the bidders’ excitement grows with the higher speed—and leads to lower prices in a Dutch auction. This result is one of several findings offered in the theory-driven paper that relies on a highly interesting set of experiments.

Information overload is a constant companion in the age of the Internet. Recommenders are not only the means of closely matching the specific demand and supply but also a means to deal with the overload. Muhammad Aljukhadar, Sylvain Senecal, and Charles-Etienne Daoust show empirically the role these decision aids play in the consumers’ choice, their confidence in the choice, and in various aspects of overload handling. The results are nuanced and provide several missing links in our understanding of the relationships between the perceived information overload and the use and effects of recommendation agents.

Two subsequent papers deal empirically with the effects of consumer reviews, one of the components of value co-creation in e-commerce. Nathalia Purnawirawan, Nathalie Dens, and Patrick De Pelsmacker study the impact of the prevalent opinion (balance) and of the sequence (the order) of reviews on consumers’ overall impression and recall. Among other findings, they find a significant wrap effect, that is, the outsize influence of the starting and con- cluding reviews. Hyunmi Baek, JoongHo Ahn, and Youngseok Choi analyze the helpfulness of the reviews and find significant effects of both the central cues (i.e., the review’s content) and the peripheral cues, such as the review’s ratings and the credibility of the reviewer. Moreover, the effects differ with the objective of the consumer in reading the reviews. Taken together, the results of the two papers can be helpful to the review aggregator in helping the consumer—or in manipulating the consumer’s decision.

The concluding paper of the issue applies a game-theoretic model to tease out the incentives of dual-channel retailers (one traditional and one online) in sharing information between the online and offline channels. The model is applicable to a multichannel retailer with both traditional and online profit centers and to single-channel (traditional or online) retailers that wish to benefit from sharing accurate market forecasts. Ruiliang Yan and Zhi Pei show that there are incentives to actually distort the information to be shared. Beyond that, and more important, these authors present an incentive-compatible mechanism that could lead to cooperation by sharing truthful information to achieve joint gain.