Editor’s Introduction 22(2)

Vladimir Zwass, Editor
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 22, Number 2, 2018, pp. 159-160.

Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are a vital economic sector, generating innovation, jobs, and gross domestic product. They also often lack the resources that would help them flourish. The first study in this issue of the International Journal of Electronic Commerce offers a theoretically grounded taxonomy of e-commerce platforms that support these enterprises. Christopher P. Holland and Manuela Gutiérrez-Leefmans perform an analysis of the existing U.K. and U.S. platforms, including clustering, and categorize them into five strategic groups, depending on their value proposition, revenue model, and Web 2.0 interaction capabilities. The importance of this work lies in the recognition of a progression of the facilities that can be provided to the SMEs. Such awareness can lead to the upgrading of platforms into full marketplaces with complementary services. Beyond that, the platform approach to these sites can surface new potentialities and bring about new business models that will act as multisided enablers of producer–consumer interaction. This could carry new strengths to SMEs in their competition with the ever agglomerating large companies. Such business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) platforms can raise many boats.

Two subsequent studies in the issue investigate social network sites (SNSs) using Facebook, by far the dominant site, as the data source. In the first article, Navid Aghakhani, Jahangir Karimi, and Mohammad Salehan present an empirical study of the adoption of electronic word of mouth (eWOM), such as consumer reviews, on the SNS. Owing to the connectivity features of these sites, the context of the work goes beyond the study of eWOM on online shopping and review sites. In this expanded context, the authors surface the importance of implicit expressions, such as “likes” and check-ins, as opposed to explicit reviews. The researchers separate the cognitive and affective attitudes as the antecedents of eWOM adoption on SNSs, and use the appropriate theoretical perspectives to establish the relative importance of the factors leading to explicit and implicit articulations.

As social sites, SNSs enable human interactions that can contribute to the happiness and well-being of the participants. To study these aspects of SNS use, the authors of the next study ground themselves in social capital theory. Andreas Munzel, Jean-Philippe Galan, and Lars Meyer-Waarden dichotomize social capital into the bonding type (strong ties in a rather exclusive group, good for getting by) and the bridging type (reaching out along weak ties, good for getting ahead). The empirics, based on a large number of Facebook users, show the greater importance of bridging capital in the positive psychological states of the participants. The size and intimacy characteristics are, in turn, antecedents of the two forms of social capital the authors investigate. The researchers relate their findings to the recommendation to use SNSs in promotional campaigns.

Mobile games are a key driver of the use of mobile devices and an important subsector of the mobile ecosystem. As a subsector, mobile free-to-play (F2P) games are an attractive proposition for gamers since users can start to play the complete game directly on downloading. These games are attractive to offerors owing to the accelerated network effects: there is no latency in the deployment. Of course, monetization is an issue. The selling of virtual goods and the currencies that can purchase game capabilities are the most frequent options. What should be the levels of pricing as well as of the game’s difficulty in a marketplace where the first mover is likely to be quite promptly challenged by a new entrant? Ismail Civelek, Yipeng Liu, and Sean R. Marston offer a formal model that leads them to results concerning optimal game difficulty level combined with the pricing of virtual goods and currencies. The authors suggest practical advice for game offerors.

Virtual brand communities (VBCs) are a significant component in the co-creation of value by customers. It is highly desirable to be able to assess both the effects and antecedents of customer participation in these communities. Here, Ji Wu, Kang Xie, Jinghua Xiao, and Jinghui Xie address this issue by developing a novel VBC participation metric and a VBC performance indicator. The authors proceed to show the superiority of this metric by deploying it against archival eWOM and transaction data for an e-commerce firm. Beyond that, they show the effects of heterogeneous customers (differing in age, gender, and tenure) on VBC performance. Along with contributing to co-creation theory, the work offers practical guidance to organizers of virtual brand communities.