Editor’s Introduction 26(3)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 26, Number 3, 2022, pp. 277-278.

In the present global inflationary environment, consumer pricing and price acceptance have moved to the forefront of concerns about the health of national economies. It has been recognized for some time that individual consumption drives economic cycles. In our domain, it is a truism to say that consumers increasingly buy online and are influenced by display ads, among other means of attraction. Display ads frequently show prices. Is the consumers’ willingness to pay affected by the incidental exposure to the prices displayed in these ads? After all, the display ads are just a means of enticing their viewers to click through to the advertiser’s website. This is the research question pursued by the authors of the first article in this issue of the International Journal of Electronic Commerce. Hamid Shaker, Sylvain Sénécal, Yany Grégoire, and Sihem Taboubi show empirically that the incidental exposure to the price displayed in the ads does indeed influence the consumers’ internal reference price. The anchoring effect plays its role, and the more granular results presented by the authors offer helpful guidelines to the advertisers and their agencies. The fact that the inclusion of the price in the display ads affects price acceptance may also be of interest to the sites on which the ads are displayed, and to their display pricing. A contribution to our knowledge of anchoring has been made as well.

The factors influencing online consumers are further pursued in the next article. Business-to-consumer (B2C) platforms are seeing increasing competition from online-to-offline (O2O) platforms that facilitate on-demand delivery of relatively familiar products from local physical stores. This form of cohabitation of the online and physical retail offers rapid delivery to consumers, and provides the means of existence or prosperity to the physical retailers and their commercial real estate. What are the differences in the effective factors acting on consumption in these two types of platforms? This is the research question asked by Hongyan Dai, Qin Xiao, Nina Yan, Xun Xu, and Tingting Tong in the next article of the issue. Their empirics are grounded in two large Chinese platforms, and allow them to distinguish between the long- and short-term effects of such factors as product ratings, clickstreams, price increases, and market share. The differences are pronounced and important to these ecosystems, and their analysis contributes to our knowledge about e-commerce.

A different way to combine the resources of the online and the physical worlds is sales-channel integration, which enables consumers to engage with sellers across different sales channels in a relatively seamless manner. However, the positive aspects of this integration in the relationship with the consumer differ in the prepurchase and the purchase stages of the consumer’s interaction with the seller. How do they differ? What are the effects on the intention to repurchase? These questions are addressed by Bernhard Swoboda and Nils Fränzel in their theory-grounded and empirically supported longitudinal study. The work is novel in pursuing the stage-based effects of integration, and arrives at granular results. Integration into a multichannel obviously requires a continuous expenditure of resources. The different aspects of consumers’ experience during the journey identified in this work will help retailers and platforms to focus these expenditures appropriately.

Virtual communities of practice are learning environments and knowledge repositories, among their several functions. If sponsored by a brand, these functions include also brand building and binding participants to the brand, in some cases creating exit barriers. The intensity and engagement of the community participants ought to be reflected in the financial outcomes of the sponsoring brand. The work by Zhengzhong Shi investigates whether that is the case. The author applies the lens of a social learning system to a virtual community sponsored on YouTube by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and collects data reflecting, respectively, the level of user participation in social exchanges and the financial performance of the AWS cloud provider. Among other results concerning the dynamics of this relationship, the key finding is the sharp contrast between the short and the long terms. The results have important general implications for our understanding of the role of properly instrumented and facilitated social media in the knowledge-intensive pursuits.

Consumer fraud in online shopping, the subject of the article authored by Tobias Knuth and Dennis C. Ahrholdt, is rife, and highly costly to e-retail. A scalable way to fight it is with online systems themselves, seemingly just as credit-card offerors and their back-office processors do that. Yet the authors point out meaningful differences between the credit-card fraud environment and the fraud-risk patterns of e-retail orders, with frequent customer postpayment after the shipment. The authors discuss operative risk indicators and proceed to apply exploratory data mining to a large transaction dataset of a major retailer. The work results in a method of identification of online fraud patterns and a scheme for further research in the area.