Editor’s Introduction 24(2)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 24, Number 2, 2020, pp. 157-158.

Crowdfunding of entrepreneurial projects has firmly taken its place in the fintech firmament. The specificity of this means of financing includes (in a successful campaign) a relatively large participation with relatively small investment pledges and the transparency of the funding’s progress. Notably, the motivations of crowdfunders often diverge from the financial gains into various nonfinancial, or purely altruistic, motivations. Which motivations prevail? How do the motivations change over the campaign’s progress? These are the research questions addressed by Sunghan Ryu, Jooyoung Park, Keongtae Kim, and Young-Gul Kim in their paper that opens this issue of International Journal of Electronic Commerce. The authors study reward-based campaigns, where both kinds of motivations are in play, and notably the researchers deploy the data both from the actual funding campaigns and from surveys of the funders. The results show overall and demographic distinctions in motivations over campaigns’ progress and are of value to the crowdfunding platforms and to their participants. Their findings also add to our knowledge of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivators.

Two-sided sales platforms, such as Amazon or Alibaba, run brief and powerful promotional events, such as Cyber Monday or Singles Day. The sellers on the platform may join with various forms of discounting, trading margins for volume. Should they? Or should they discount on their own? How much should they discount? In the next paper, Moutaz Khouja and Xin Liu offer a formal economic model that allows them to contribute to our knowledge and offer advice to e-retailers. Strategic behavior by the retailers, such as increasing the price before the promotion, and by customers, such as withholding buying for a period before the promotion, as well as the size of the retailer and the information assymetry as to their stocking quantity are weighty considerations. Their effects are also among the insights offered here.

Brand communities are an important means of building relationships with customers. To be effective, the communities have to engage the participants. What are the ways of accomplishing that? In the following paper, Kai-Yu Wang, Wen-Hai Chih, and Li-Chun Hsu focus on the influence of interactivity perceived by the members of the community, which includes their perceptions of control, responsiveness, and the extent of communication. The empirics are garnered in the context of Facebook Fan Pages, a tool often used to build brand communities. The study impresses on us the care and resources that need to be devoted to nourishing brand communities, lest they do no favors to the brand or die on the vine.

With direct access to the customers via the Internet, manufacturers can choose along with their traditional physical downstream chain among three online strategies of distribution: direct sale, selling through an e-tailer, or agency selling via an e-mall or a similar arrangement with an intermediary. Which one(s) should be chosen? Xujin Pu, Shuxing Sun, and Jing Shao set up an economic model of the alternative distribution strategies and surface the optimal one(s) under the circumstances the authors define. The consequences of the online alternatives for the traditional distribution chain are included in the advice based on the analysis.

Online product reviews are commonly consulted before purchases. They are often helpful indeed, and the antecedents of this helpfulness have been extensively studied. Reviews are also frequently problematic, or simply fake. The credibility of the reviews’ source has been quite extensively studied on the prepurchase stage. However, this credibility will be reassessed by the customers based on the purchase experience (should it take place), and the postpurchase assessment of the review source will likely affect the future recourse to the reviews’ source and, perhaps, acquisitions. Here, Jung-Kuei Hsieh and Yi-Jin Li investigate the effects of the incongruous source credibility, defined by them as the discrepancy between the prepurchase and postpurchase credibility assessment of the review source, on the customer loyalty to that source. In online experiments, the authors also study the influence of the mediators and moderators of that loyalty. The results will provide an encouragement to the review platforms to mind the quality of their reviews.