Editor’s Introduction 24(3)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 24, Number 3, 2020, pp. 277-278.

The marketplace for mobile payments services is an arena of intense competition among many multinational and national players. The attractiveness of this marketplace to the providing brands takes in the fact that this provision is a gateway to other fintech services and markets. Thus branding is vital to a lasting embedding and continuing success. The authors of the opening paper of this International Journal of Electronic Commerce issue examine the effects of cross-side network effects on brand equity and consumer loyalty in the mobile payments marketplace. Xiang Gong, Christy M.K. Cheung, Kem Z.K. Zhang, Chongyang Chen, and Matthew K.O. Lee develop a multilevel characterization of the supply-side components leading to the cross-side network effects in the present context. They proceed to examine empirically the impact of these complementary components on brand equity and consumer loyalty as the demand-side effects. A nuanced treatment of the three aspects of consumer loyalty is offered. The paper both expands our understanding of the contextualized cross-side network effects and helps in strategic action in an increasingly vital marketplace.

Human–computer negotiation (HCN) has been underplayed both in research and practice of e-commerce. The human negotiators can act in their own behalf or on behalf of organizations. With the complexities of the “human element,” HCN is far more difficult to realize than the computer-to-computer negotiation, the future of which is expected to be bright as more advanced blockchain applications come on stream. Therefore, the next paper’s contribution is important not only by offering a tested design of a software agent for HCN but also by furthering the agenda of automating the dynamics of the human–computer interaction in e-commerce transactions. Mukun Cao, Qing Hu, Melody Y. Kiang, and Hong Hong follow the precepts of design science and demonstrate the effectiveness of an automated agent that can dynamically select from an assortment of four negotiation strategies. In the experiments run by the authors, their agent outperforms the benchmark single-strategy models with respect to the settlement ratio and joint negotiation outcomes.

Shopping online, consumers generally encounter numerous websites to buy from. How to choose? Various attributes of the website, such as trust-enhancing labels, should play a role. They do not if they will not be noticed. The sellers may attempt to differentiate themselves by offering superior delivery terms or return benefits. This will be in vain if not easily seen by the website visitor. Leonard Maaya, Michel Meulders, and Martina Vandebroek deploy the attribute nonattendance approach to study empirically the effects of providing the holistic website information in an accessible format. The authors model the potential switching behavior of consumers in a novel fashion that renders a more nuanced understanding of the better information provision by the websites to the consumers of different characteristics.

With direct access to the customers via the Internet, manufacturers can We should always remember that the domain of e-commerce includes prominently the intraorganizational subdomain. Here, Yuan Sun, Lixia Wu, Rui Chen, Kuikui Lin, and Rong-An Shang empirically study the impact of the use of enterprise social software on the improvisation ability of the teams that deploy these platforms, such as Slack or Jive. The authors’ work is grounded in the social capital theory. The effects of the bonding and bridging social capital are investigated, both within the teams and across teams. The improvisation capability of organizational teams is the keystone of their ability to respond creatively to unforeseen circumstances. The results offered here can lead to a more effective use of the organizational social platform. The study has gained additional importance in the present environment of social separation and office virtualization. Dealing with unforeseen circumstances is what is being done now.

Omni-channel retailing is now commonly practiced in the environment of the general move toward online commerce but also in some cases toward online brands coming partly offline. We are still learning how to manage prices across channels. Low menu costs online offer many and various opportunities of dynamic pricing, only some of them effective; the relative pricing across channels can only partly reflect the respective costs as the sellers seek to maximize long-term revenues; third-party (such as online advertisers’) contributions to the sellers’ revenue streams may be attractive at a first glance and affect the relative pricing, and so on—there is a cornucopia of opportunities worthy of research investigation. In the concluding paper of the issue, Jianghua Wu, Chenchen Zhao, Xinghao Yan, and Lifei Wang present a formal economic model of pricing optimization in an online–offline dual channel selling. Periodic discounting is common, and its effects in the face of customers’ strategic behavior (e.g., waiting for discounts) are poorly understood. Manufacturers, retailers, and final customers are the players. The authors propose what they call a randomized pricing strategy, with the retailer offering discriminatory pricing via random discounting online. The model captures the essential characteristics of the dual-channel environment and leads to actionable results, along with expanding our general knowledge of online pricing.