Editor’s Introduction 28(3)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 28, Number 3, 2024, pp. 293-294.

Recent developments in e-commerce show that—against what had been expected at its outset—online commerce can coexist with the physical stores. Acting as local distribution and return centers, accessible product-display means, incremental sales outlets with immediate fulfillment of transactions, and just the points of contact with a seller that is invisible online, physical stores have been coming back. Online-to-offline (O2O) platforms are emerging apace. These changes in the commercial ecosystem change the promotional landscape. In the first article of this IJEC issue, La Ta, Xun Xu, and Hongyan Dai study empirically the promotional strategies of the incumbent companies in the face of the new entrants to the O2O marketplace. Tethered as they are to geographical locations in some of their activities, the O2O models offer new opportunities and present new limitations—as you will learn from the authors’ work, grounded in theory and based on empirical research.

Crowdfunding is another phenomenon gaining strength along with the general e-commerce. A segment of this fundraising method is charitable, or prosocial, crowdfunding. In the next article of the issue, Thaer Atawna, Stefania Testa, and Silvano Cincotti present a study of this underexplored mode of charitable activity. The authors base themselves theoretically on the lens of moral cosmopolitanism, and empirically on a large number of prosocial crowdfunding campaigns. Their focus is on the impact of geography (read: developed versus developing segments of it) on the success of the campaigns. It is heartening to see the success of many charitable campaigns; it is less so when we see that both the initiators and recipients of the more successful campaigns are found in the developing world. The results point to a need for solutions. Perhaps mixed sponsorship can help, with the beneficiaries or initiators seeking collaboration with more fortunately placed actors.

Online selling platforms evolve, and attract sellers and buyers with a variety of certificates issued to the sellers to gain the confidence, loyalty, and just future business of the buyers. One kind of such is quick-seller certificate assuring the buyers of prompt fulfilments. Here, Yiying Zhang, Youngsok Bang, and Sang Won Kim present the results of their investigation of the impact of such certificates on the postpurchase behavior of buyers. Should the exceptionally fast delivery not be the case, buyers experience psychological contract violation, with negative consequences for the focus transaction (possibly canceled) and the future relationship (possibly torn) with the certified seller. Based on a large transaction dataset, the work represents a warning: Exceptional is as exceptional does, and not as exceptional claims.

Among the successful and impressively growing phenomena of the contemporary e-commerce landscape are online video platforms. To facilitate user search, the user-generated videos are tagged; to ensure scalability they are tagged automatically. The tagging both relies on and promotes video prototypicality, that is, the degree to which a given video exemplifies its category. In the next article, Lu Liu, Xiying Sun, Jiaming Fang, and Md. Altab Hossin present their investigation of a given video’s prototypicality on the emotional and cognitive engagements of the users in the context of horizontal versus vertical marketplace competition. The surfaced effects are subtle yet highly significant. Among the implications of the work is the need for a more sophisticated automatic tagging, supported by the artificial intelligence (AI)-based classification.

The concluding article of the issue is a formal study of consumer-to-consumer resale platforms, another recent success story, with salutary environmental effects. A natural question emerges: Do the resales affect the retailer negatively by cannibalizing the potential sales of new products or do they enhance the revenue? The authors, Chen Pang, Li Jiang, and Gang Li, present an analytical model encompassing the actions of three parties: the retailer of new products, the resale platform, and the consumer. The model yields some surprising results regarding the benefits received by the parties in the presence of heterogeneous consumers.

Taken together, the articles included in the issue analyze the salient contemporary aspects of e-commerce and contribute both to our theoretical understanding of the important phenomena and to the guidelines for the forward-looking practice.