Editor’s Introduction 27(3)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 27, Number 3, 2023, pp. 295-296.

The supported, and often steered, bottom-up marketing by individuals on social media occupies a significant place in the firms’ marketing budgets and a highly respectable place in the researchers’ attention. As a component of the co-creation of value by consumers, it may be treated as a financial boon by the producers of goods and services, or managed at a great expense while maintaining the credibility of its independence. This resonant marketing intensifies the entry of the ever new influencers, the deployment of the accumulated longitudinal corpora, and the novel means of making the user-generated content accessible in an attractive form to the consumers and other parties at interest. The new uses of the real-time and the accumulated body of opinion emerge and are worthy of intensive study.

The first article in this issue of IJEC does indeed investigate the use of the influencer opinion in the evaluation of the sellers’ responses to the cases when they failed to satisfy consumers. It had been established by prior marketing research and practice that a skillful response to such a failure often leads to long-term positive results for the brand, akin to a bond between the previously complaining consumer and the seller exceeding this consumer’s expectations in response.

Anshu Suri, Bo Huang, and Sylvain Sénécal study empirically, with a strong theoretical grounding, the differential response of consumers at a postpurchase stage of their journey to a disappointment with their purchase—depending on the influencers’ opinion of the product. Will the reaction of Consumer A who encounters a positive influencer opinion as the disappointed consumer is trying to form her own opinion differ from the response of a disappointed Consumer B reading a negative opinion of influencers? This research shows that such response is indeed different, affectively and behaviorally. The positive opinion of the influencers matters on this stage as well—in the positive direction for the sellers. The work significantly expands our understanding of the role of influencers in the totality of e-retail.

Product reviews reflect, most naturally, product quality. Quality costs money and needs to be congruent with the price and the satisfaction of the desires of the addressed consumer segments. In the face of this vox populi, the sellers need to select the bundle of quality and price to elicit a positive word of mouth online. The online environment also affords the opportunity to dynamically adjust prices and (to some extent and with a latency) quality in response to customer reviews. Here, Cui Zhao and Xiaoshuai Peng offer a formal game-theoretic model in a competitive setting that would allow the sellers to adjust prices and quality in seeking profits while benefiting from real-time consumer feedback online. The practical, as well as theoretical, conclusions of the work show up the potential of the distinguishing features of online selling in successfully addressing the consumer marketplace.

A different opportunity to deploy more fully the advantages of the online marketplace is investigated by the authors of the next article, who study the effects of haptic stimulation on consumer behavior. Margot Racot and Daria Plotkina study the effects of tactile stimulation received as the vibrations activated by a smartphone app. The researchers find a positive effect on purchases by the customers who had a prior awareness of the haptics deployment. As we move toward what we at present consider the Metaverse, we can expect a higher engagement of multiple senses in the provision of commercial experiences. Although we may not reach the full Metaverse, if only for the reasons of the bandwidth limitations, we can expect that haptics research will bear fruit in its commercial deployment.

We know full well that sales promotions are a lasting stream in the lifeblood of marketing. It is also obvious that they introduce uncertainty in the sales channel operation and may lead to inaction inertia: A potential customer who missed a promotion is likely to remain only a potential customer, not willing to settle for a less attractive offer. In the next article, Shiu-Li Huang and Yu-Min Zhao study the sequences of both monetary and nonmonetary promotions with the aim of relieving inaction inertia. With theory development and empirics, the work integrates the prior fragmentary knowledge with the novel results and shows how to relieve effectively the inertia in a promotional sequence.

E-commerce is much more than e-retail. Infrastructural telecom platforms—as many two-sided markets do—subsidize one of the sides. There are intricate interdependencies between the platform operations and the service costs offered to the users by the mobile telecom carriers and on to the Internet content providers. In the concluding article of this issue, Chongkai Wang, Minqiang Li, Haiyang Feng, and Nan Feng offer a game-theoretic model of this infrastructural service marketplace. The study examines analytically the market where the competing carriers can offer sponsored data plans that affect market participation, and surfaces the optimal strategies they can pursue, with the consideration of multi-homing. Distinctions are drawn between the optimal strategies of the large and the smaller carriers. The work makes a contribution to our understanding of both platform operations and of the infrastructural components of the e-commerce stack.