Editor’s Introduction 22(1)

Vladimir Zwass, Editor
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 22, Number 1, 2018, pp. 1-7.

The three studies that open this issue of the International Journal of Electronic Commerce (IJEC) address different aspects of social commerce. In the first article, Joris Demmers, Willemijn M. van Dolen, and Jesse W.J. Weltevreden study how the users of social network sites (SNS) perceive the proactive messages they receive from firms. Say you have expressed dissatisfaction with the service you had received from the airline X, without explicitly naming X. Would you welcome a message from that airline? Would you consider a promotional message from airline Y flying the same route to be helpful customer service or an invasion of your privacy? Personal information is seen by some as a good in the individual’s possession and thus subject to a cost–benefit analysis (known as privacy calculus) in the decision to disclose. Privacy is seen by others and by some national and international regulatory systems as a human right, not to be bargained away. Here, the authors apply the privacy-calculus lens in their theoretical development and empirical study. Their empirics show that firms are well-advised to exercise restraint in proactively messaging SNS users who do not directly complain about or compliment them.

Location-based social networks (LBSN) leverage information about users’ location for a variety of advantages. Mutual discovery by a business and a potential customer in its vicinity can lead to a transaction or even a longer-term relationship. A business in a nonprime location could notionally find the promotion on an LBSN to be a partial equalizer with respect to easy-to-notice competitors in an advantageous location. What is the reality? Ke Zhang, Konstantinos Pelechrinis, and Theodoros Lappas statistically analyze a large Foursquare data set to determine the effectiveness of LBSN promotions. They find it wanting, particularly in the longer term. Helpfully, the authors deploy the data to propose and validate a novel model that predicts the effectiveness of a promotion. Clearly, this study has much to offer to a firm that is apportioning its advertising budget and planning a campaign.

Abrar Al-Hasan studies social stock picking, using data collected from one of the largest sites dedicated to this objective. These SNS help investors follow perceived gurus, making elaborate information about the gurus’ trading history available to their followers. The author investigates the antecedents of salutary investment performance through the lens of the social learning theory. Two types of social learning are found to lead to opposite performance results. The work contributes to our knowledge of co-creation, FinTech, and social learning.

The advent of e-commerce has placed the concept of business models in the center of business action and research attention. In fact, pivoting, expanding, and contracting business models have moved to the center of the competitive arena of e-commerce. In the next article, Paul Beynon-Davies shows how thinking about these models as patterns enables us to deploy the design theory to help conceptualize, understand, and build business models. The approach offered by the author goes further, to help us partially reuse and benchmark them. The pattern-comics visualization presented here may be effective in helping a variety of stakeholders (including the proponents of the model) in understanding what the business is doing or will be trying to do.

Reducing or annihilating friction or, in other words, minimizing transaction costs, has been an original motivator of the move to the Web. Practice is always more multifaceted than the theory that precedes it. In the concluding article of this issue, Robert Maximilian Grüschow and Malte Brettel empirically investigate the transaction costs in international payments to retailers, in the light of the “transactions demand for cash” theoretical framework. The authors deploy a unique transaction-level data set of sales and devise their own framework for comparing the costs of transacting with the use of several payment methods, including credit cards and PayPal. Both the significant differences in payment costs with these transaction means and the comparison method are a significant contribution to our understanding of what it actually costs to be paid online.

The first issue of a new volume of IJEC is always where thanks are given to our referees, the primary guarantors of the quality of our studies. Here are their names.