Guest Editor’s Introduction 21(4): Smart Interaction with Consumers: From Co-Creation to Smart Partnership

Eleonora Pantano, Constantinos-Vasilios Priporas, and Daniel Baier, Guest Editors
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 21, Number 4, 2016-2017, pp. 449-453.

This issue of the International Journal of Electronic Commerce shows how the traditional processes of value co-creation in commerce are shifting in the new, technology-enriched, retail environments toward smart partnerships between retailers and consumers. The articles included in the issue examine a wide range of subjects related to the emergence of these smart partnerships.

In the past decade, marketing has shifted from a traditional product-dominant view, considering the product as the basis of each strategy, to a service-dominant logic, based on the centrality of intangibility in terms of exchanges, relationships, and interactions [6, 11, 15]. Similarly, current marketing practices associated with progress in information and communication technologies have evolved, prompted by smarter information technology (IT) service innovations [3], by including new forms of interactions with consumers based on the extensive usage of social media, smartphones, mobile apps, ubiquitous systems, and so forth [10]. Smart technologies are able to enhance contact points between consumers and firms through emotional engagement, ease of use, user-friendly, highly realistic, and interactive interfaces, and entertaining scenarios, by creating new augmented reality-based scenarios where offline and online channels can be integrated to create value for consumers [1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14]. Hence, they reinforce interactions between clients and firms through a huge emotional engagement and a collaborative scenario where consumers are able to actively participate in the creation of the final service (service co-creation) through a sort of “smart interaction” with technology, which replies with highly customized information and smart shopping environments [7, 11, 16]. As a consequence, consumers are involved in sort of smart partnerships with service providers with a common goal to achieve the most satisfying service. Therefore, the concept of “smartness” goes beyond pure applications of smart technologies, by requiring the definition of new forms of value co-creation and interactions with consumers, providing superior experiences and differentiating the final service and product.

While this topic has been largely exploited by the game industry [5], e-commerce, with emphasis in e-retailing still lacks empirical studies on the creation of smart partnerships with end users/consumers. This is the main motivation for this issue of the journal, which aims at providing a deep understanding of the emerging concepts of smart interaction with consumers, where the co-creation process shifts to a smart partnership perspective in the current technology-mediated retail environments. The studies included in this issue were selected and revised, resulting in a strong collection outlining the recent advancements on the topic, implications for practitioners, and an agenda for future research.

The issue opens with a study by Thomas Leclercq, Ingrid Poncin, and Wafa Hammedi, who investigate the role that gamification mechanics plays in engaging actors in co-creation platforms. As a case study the authors use a French co-creation platform, complementary qualitative and quantitative methods (netnography, in-depth interviews, cluster analysis, multiple regression analysis) and a data set of 234 users. They find four distinct user profiles with specific motives, behaviors, and levels of engagement toward gamification mechanics. Another important contribution of this study to the game literature is that it highlights the cognitive dimension of consumer engagement in addition to the emotional and behavioral dimensions. The study offers suggestions to practitioners to design relevant strategies for each one of the segments.

The study by Tingting (Christina) Zhang, Can Lu, and Murat Kizildag investigates the factors that entice consumers to engage in co-creation activities with firms using mobile technology. Based on the diffusion of innovation theory, a structural model that examines the antecedents of the engagement that leads to the co-creation of value using mobile technology has been developed and tested by using survey data from 689 consumers, members of Generation Y in the United States. The findings show that consumers belonging to this cohort are more motivated by their peers and other social factors. Acquiring solid interpersonal and peer networks, and engaging in informal communications is paramount to Gen Y consumers when they engage in cocreation. Also, factors such as ease of use of technology and consumer innovativeness also affect the tendency of this cohort to engage in co-creation activities through mobile platforms. The results offer suggestions to practitioners to design their co-creation and co-innovation strategies.

The study by Charles Dennis, Michael Bourlakis, Eleftherios Alamanos, Savvas Papagiannidis, and J. Joško Brakus sheds light on consumers’ value co-creation via traditional and smart shopping channels. The focus of attention is the effect that value co-creation has on both consumers’ shopping behavior and their well-being. Data were collected through an online survey in the United States, employing a sample of 1,220 individuals who perceive themselves as being socially excluded, particularly by mobility disability. The findings indicate that social exclusion has an effect on respondents’ self-connection with all channels, and for many socially excluded respondents the shopping channel plays an important role in their lives. Furthermore, self-connection with the channel has a positive effect on value co-creation and there is a positive relationship between value co-creation and well-being. Additionally, when consumers help other individuals in their decision making they not only create value for the retailer and for other customers but also contribute positively to their own well-being. In regard to the use of smart shopping channels, a computer, or a mobile phone, the contributions of value co-creation to consumer well-being are stronger for shoppers with a mobility disability than for those without such a disability.

The study by Sujin Yang and Yun Jung Lee proposes a new conceptual framework for m-interactivity by investigating key dimensions of the m-interactivity and its impact on consumer enjoyment, satisfaction, and loyalty, as well as the relationships among these variables. Based on a web-based survey sample of 337 Internet users in the South Korean m-commerce market focusing on six highly ranked mobile retailers, the authors confirm four dimensions of m-interactivity: two-way communication, responsiveness, synchronicity, and ubiquity for mobile website users. Furthermore, among the four dimensions of m-interactivity identified in this study, ubiquity was the only dimension that had positive direct impact on consumer enjoyment, satisfaction, and loyalty. Mobile website professionals can benefit by examining which interactivity features enhance users’ preferences when they communicate with other users.

Clara Bassano, Matteo Gaeta, Paolo Piciocchi, and James C. Spohrer study the new forms of consumer behavior in the online age. Their work introduces a new space-based marketing model inspired by the SECI (socialization, externalization, combination, internalization) model: Marketing-oriented cyberspace, namely, M@SECI and M@BA. The model creates a sort of real virtual space that intends to clearly explicate the impact of new TV formats hybridized by new technologies in the field of advertising on the consumer buying process that are generated by a new way of conceiving communication.

In conclusion, the studies in this issue provide a multifaceted contribution to our understanding of the creation of smart partnerships between service providers and consumers in the emerging electronic and mobile scenarios. They highlight the importance of engaging customers in the co-creation process through smart interactions in various contexts and countries. We believe that these empirical research studies contribute to both theory and practice and elucidate the challenges in the topic. Furthermore, although the findings of these empirical studies have unavoidable limitations, they nevertheless offer avenues for further academic exploration opportunities that can extend current knowledge.

We especially acknowledge our gratitude to the anonymous reviewers, who so generously offered their time, effort, and constructive comments to improve the quality of the submitted studies throughout multiple rounds of the review process. Finally, we thank all the authors for their significant contributions to the publication of this issue. We also extend our thanks to the editor in chief of the International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Vladimir Zwass, who gave us the opportunity to publish this issue.


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