Introduction to the Special Section: Refining the Measurement of E-Commerce

Stefan Klein and Bob O’Keefe, Guest Editors
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 6, Number 1, Fall 2001, pp. 9.

The development and diffusion of electronic commerce has entered a new century and a new period of maturity. The Thirteenth Bled International Conference on Electronic Commerce included a number of papers that focused on how to measure and assess the use and impact of electronic commerce. Of particular interest were the papers that provided methods for refining and improving current systems and methodologies. Two of the best papers presented at the conference are published here. In “An Evaluation of Cyber-Bookshops: The WebQual Method,” Stuart Barnes and Richard Vidgen present a method for evaluating Web sites. Based on the SERVQUAL methodology, the WebQual method aims to provide a customer-focused evaluation of Web sites. The method is tested on three British book stores, showing that subtle differences in how the stores interact with customers can be measured. Since presentation at Bled, the WebQual method has moved into the commercial world: see

Many studies of electronic commerce usage, particularly the Georgia Tech and Wharton studies, rely upon on-line survey methods, on the assumption that the large number of responses obtained will outweigh some of the bias due to self-selection by respondents. In “Sensitivity of E-Commerce Measurement to the Survey Instrument,” Vasja Vehovar, Katja Lozar Manfreda, and Zenel Batagelj show that Web-based surveys with e-mail contact can be far more sensitive to the instrument than traditional paper surveys with phone contact. Since errors in estimates of measures can be substantial as compared to other survey methods, the method deployed in an e-survey has to be stated with great precision.

STEFAN KLEIN ( is professor of information systems at the University of Muenster, Germany. His research and teaching areas are interorganizational systems, information management, and communication systems. He was research track chair for the Thirteenth Bled International Conference on Electronic Commerce, and is a member of the editorial board of Electronic Journal of Organizational Virtualness, Electronic Markets, European Journal of Information Systems, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, and Information Technology and Tourism.

BOB O’KEEFE ( is professor of information management at Brunel University, England. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Southhampton. His research and teaching areas are electronic business, customer interaction, and decision support systems. He is research track chair for the Fourteenth Bled International Conference on Electronic Commerce and co-editor of the European Journal of Information Systems.