Editor’s Introduction 27(4)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 27, Number 4, 2023, pp. 441-442.

Corresponding to the continuing growth of e-commerce, our scholarly field offers increasingly more sophisticated analyses and advice on how to match the offerings with the customers and, beyond that, how to deploy customers’ knowledge in developing the products that will be wanted. The articles in the present issue of IJEC illustrate that.

We have a sense of the world’s balance when those who do good do well. In the first article of the issue, Andrew S. Manikas, James R. Kroes, Shaunn Mattingly, and Garrett A. McBrayer study empirically the effects of the sellers’ emphasizing their corporate social responsibility (CSR) on the consumers’ purchasing decisions in online auctions. Indeed, multiple declarations of CSR and the use of related terminology in the offering descriptions do not always correspond to good actions, yet they are shown here to affect positively the item sales. Basing themselves in several relevant theories, the authors develop a research framework and formulate the hypotheses they go on to test empirically in the context of a popular auction platform. The offerers do well with CSR. This tells us that their customers support doing good. It remains to be hoped that the purchasers who appreciate those who do good do well as well.

The next article continues the theme of the platforms relating to their customers more effectively. Yiru Wang, Yilong Zheng, and Xun Xu study the effects of the discrepancies between the information provided by the platforms regarding the featured offerings and the customers’ reviews of these offerings. Such discrepancies emerge owing to the differences in focus, discussed attributes, linguistic styles, and the attitudes formed by the background and experience. With the model-driven empirics stemming from a highly popular sharing-economy platform, the researchers find differentiated effects of various types of discrepancies between what the hosts say and what the customer reviews indicate. Nuanced and highly useful advice to the platforms emerges.

Information disclosure by platforms is also the focus of the next article. The context and the methodology are, however, wholly different. Mengli Li and Li Wan deploy game theory to assess the aptness of the information disclosed by the platforms from the viewpoint of product returns. As is well known, product returns affect significantly the profitability of platforms and in extreme cases may lead to their demise. Naturally, they are also an expression of customer dissatisfaction. Unobvious results indicate that the extent of the information disclosure should be controlled and that the sales channel structure (wholesale versus agency) should be related to this disclosure.

Co-creation of value by customers along with the producers has become a very significant component in product development and evolution. The customers constitute an unbounded source of knowledge and their experiences can complement what the producers know. Yet in most (but not all) cases they are “working for free.” Why? The motivations of customer co-creation are explored here by Zeynep Didem Nohutlu, Basil Englis, Aard Groen, and Efthymios Constantinides. Although the distinction between the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations is often tenuous (think of learning by participation in co-creation), the authors usefully rely on this dichotomy to come up with a relatively comprehensive analysis of user motivations and with a research agenda to support the future efforts.

Social media influencers have entrenched themselves as a highly important (well, influential) component of online commerce. Here, Qian Hu, Zhao Pan, Yaobin Lu, and Bin Wang present a study of influencers’ impact on impulsive buying online. By establishing a parasocial relationship with their followers, influencers often form a strong emotional bond with them, thus curtailing deliberation in favor of impulsive decision making. The authors show that both heterophily (differences from the followers) and homophily (similarity to the followers) are dual channels to influence. They go further to identify the aspects of these differences and similarities in order to tease out their differential impact on the influencers’ role in impulse buying, and to offer both theoretical and pragmatic contributions.