Editor’s Introduction 26(4)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 26, Number 4, 2022, pp. 413-414.

Much of the power of the Internet derives from the capability it furnishes for collective action. Thus, people may deploy the Internet–Web in the realm of politics, notably in a bottom-up aggregation for organization and continuing activity of collectives of a great variety of sizes, organizations, and objectives. Such power is also reflected in social commerce and in the collective co-creation of economic value. Internet-based collective action is supported by myriad social networks and allied systems that help produce the value and may disrupt the existing value webs, existing economic arrangements, and—as in a number of cases—the existing social order. Notably, economic value may be co-created by the innovation and knowledge-sharing communities, ranging from those autonomously acting on behalf of independent contributors, to the communities sponsored by brands and involving the users of their products.

Two articles opening the present issue of the International Journal of Electronic Commerce</italic> investigate the operation of such communities. In the first of these, Qingfeng Zeng, Lanlan Zhang, Qian Guo, Wei Zhuang, and Weiguo Fan present their empirical study of the factors that influence the idea selection in a community sponsored by a major manufacturer of mobile phones. Grounding themselves in persuasion theory, the authors deploy a large database of user ideas to determine the factors that led to the selection of some of those for adoption. Notable here, among other factors, is the role of the emotion expressed along with a proposed idea. The results will help in developing a disciplined, and partly automated, selection process, including debiasing in the cases when one of the tangential factors would cloud the selection of a worthy idea.

The quality of the selected ideas depends, of course, on the pool of ideas to select from. This is, in turn, conditioned in the first place by the participation of users in the open innovation community. In the next article, Sohaib Mustafa and Wen Zhang present an empirical study of user participation in technical versus nontechnical questions-and-answers communities. The authors deploy the technique of fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis to surface the conditions for maximum participation. The revealed conditions are overlapping, yet different, for these two types of communities. However, in both cases social interaction is key to building and sustaining them. As said at the opening of this introduction, the power of the Internet is to a large degree in collective action.

The default settings have great power, often insidious as they are unrecognized, in many virtual halls and corners of computing in general, and e-commerce in particular. They remain very often unchanged, to the chagrin of security experts and firms that employ them. Here, Efthalia Dimara, Emmanouela Manganari, Evangelos Mourelatos, and Nikos Michos empirically study the differential effects of three potential defaults in receiving (or not) e-mail communications from brands. In three studies they conducted, the researchers investigate the interaction effects of the consumer personality and mood on the one hand and the defaults options (opt-in, opt-out, and forced choice) on the other. You will find the effectiveness of the opt-in option surprising.

Much of the competition in e-retail plays itself out on the logistical arena of delivery speed. So does much of the cost of doing business and the decision making in selecting for logistics a large platform, a specialized e-logistics firm, or doing it yourself. Daniel Brylla and Gianfranco Walsh follow up the common assumption that the e-commerce customers expect speedy delivery. On that assumption, the suppliers offer split deliveries of an order, to begin the delivery as fast as possible. How does this tactic affect customer outcomes, such as their satisfaction, repeat purchases, and word of mouth? The researchers use a field study and several experiments in the setting of established theories to answer this question. Consolidated deliveries lead to better customer outcomes.

The concluding article of the issue presents a formal study of competition of platforms hosting two-sided markets. Network effects are the drivers of platform success, with a greater participation of sellers and buyers breeding further participation. In particular, the greater numbers on one side stimulate a greater participation on the other, in cross-sided network effects. However, this is not only about quantity. A greater quality of suppliers may stimulate the participation of the customers on the platform. Should platforms subsidize higher quality suppliers (as they often subsidize one side of the marketplace) to join and to stay? Here, Qi Fu and Gaoyan Lyu offer a game-theoretic model of different subsidization scenarios to establish the multiple effects of different subsidization scenarios. The surfaced outcomes are nuanced and thus result in both theoretical contribution and pragmatic advice to the platforms. Under some regimes, in a reinforced Gresham effect, lower quality suppliers will be driven off the platform, and the network effect will also go into reverse, lowering the participation.