Editor’s Introduction 8(2)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 8, Number 2, Winter 2003-4, pp. 5.

E-commerce has not abolished the accumulated wisdom of economics or the lessons learned by sociology, and has not resulted in frictionless global marketplaces frequented electronically by the ultimate buyers and sellers, to the exclusion of intermediaries. Nonetheless, the transformations of economic activity have been profound and continuing. The technologies deployed by organizations and individuals change the force field, and can be ignored only at the ignorer’s peril. Supply chains are being revamped, often to involve more rather than fewer intermediaries, many of them newly emerged infomediaries. Offshore outsourcing of knowledge work, most visible in the software-development domain, is a trend that will widen and gather much force. Marketplaces are being organized with new methods of matching and price discovery, and evolving packages of complementary services. The changes are not instantaneous and not impervious to business cycles, but they are quite rapid and fraught with opportunity for those who are able to harness information technologies to reorganize their business models and processes. The papers in this issue of IJEC illustrate the gamut of the transformation.

By extrapolating the present trends, Ram D. Gopal, Ram Ramesh, and Andrew B. Whinston present a vision and a framework for e-commerce of microproducts: deconstructed digital products. The authors identify the incentives for unbundling products that appear integral today, and show the gains that will accrue to both sellers and buyers from placing such microproducts on the market. The authors further analyze the marketplaces where these products are beginning to be traded.

Price competition was the principal idea of early B2C e-commerce-the idea that has made the principal contribution to the failure of most of the larger retailers. We know that lower prices result in lower profits. We suspect, though, that they result in happier customers. We are not quite right there. Yong Cao, Thomas S. Gruca, and Bruce R. Klemz show empirically that price satisfaction is negatively related to the fulfillment satisfaction of customers. The authors analyze this seemingly paradoxical result. We knew before that price competition is not a healthy strategy from the supplier’s vantage point. We now also know it from the customer’s point of view.

The Internet is not only a marketplace, it is equally a forum. When these two aspects are combined, we have electronic word of mouth influencing buying decisions. Thorsten Hennig-Thurau and Gianfranco Walsh present an empirical study of this influence. They show what motivates the readers of Internet opinions and how these motivations influence their decision-making behavior. The results of their study will be important to brand owners, marketers, and forum providers. As a forum, the Web-Internet combine has enabled countless virtual communities, associated around a passion, interest, identity, vocation, or affliction. These communities are valuable sources of marketing information, influencers by electronic word of mouth, and targets of marketing. The sense of community is an essential distinction between a true community and a customer or team site, for example. Joon Koh and Young-Gul Kim study empirically and analyze a large number of virtual communities, to establish what leads to the sense of community. There is an interesting path dependence here: Virtual communities that originated on-line have a stronger community sense.

Owing to its protean nature, the Internet provides the context for a customer’s interaction with a seller. The context may be a virtual community. Context may be known in many ways. The context of an individual who enters consecutive search keywords into Google, returns to Amazon.com after prior purchases, or passes a movie theater carrying a GPS-equipped cell phone is known to the sellers who have access to it. Xueming Luo and Mojtaba Seyedian investigate empirically what contextual marketing strategies lead to customer satisfaction and loyalty. Their results are rather surprising in that they uncover only a limited concern for privacy. They show, in general, the power of the contextual marketing approach.

Protection of intellectual property is vital to economic development and especially to the further expansion of e-commerce. A great variety of protective measures, and counter-measures, are debated in the media and studied in the relevant disciplines. The tension between the commons and property rights will persist, and both will be subject to multiple interpretations. Technological protection schemes are the means of enforcement of selected protection regimes. In the concluding paper of this issue, Sai Ho Kwok and Christopher C. Yang present and compare four schemes for electronic watermarking. They use a comprehensive set of criteria, including delivery latency and storage requirements, in their comparison. They are able to analytically identify and recommend the best watermarking scheme for e-services.

At this time of the year, it gives me great pleasure to thank our readers, our authors, and the members of the Editorial Board. The very special thanks always go to our referees, the primary guarantors of a journal’s quality. Here are the IJEC referees:

Pervaiz Alam Paul Alpar Dorine Andrews Yoris Au Sulin Ba Barbro Back Reza Barkhi Stuart J. Barnes Anol Bhattacherjee Irma Becerra-Fernandez M. Brian Blake Robert W. Blanning Patrick Chau Abhijit Chaudhury Andrew Chen Kuan Chen Hsing K. Cheng Robert T.H. Chi Roger Chiang Theodore H. Clark Sue Conger Qizhi Dai Ronald Dattero Sarv Devaraj JRajiv Dewan Georgios I. Doukidis William J. Drake Ming Fan JPat Finnegan Judith Gebauer David Gefen Paolo Goes Janis L. Gogan Paul Gray Stefano Grazioli Gary Grudnitski Alok Gupta Jungpil Hahn Kunsoo Han Paul Hart Thorsten Hennig-Thurau Lorin M. Hitt Martin R. Hoogeweegen John A. Hoxmeier Qing Hu Kail Lung Hui Ard Huizing Bharat A. Jain Robert Johnston Wen-Shenq Juang Boris Jukic Nenad Jukic Charles Kacmar Melody Y. Kiang Gary Klein Cenk Kocas Rajiv Kohli Praveen K. Kopalle Marios Koufaris Christoph Kuhn Ram Kumar James Kwok Hsiangchu Lai Ulrike Lechner Albert L. Lederer John Ledyard Ho Geun Lee Jungwoo Lee Myung-Soo Lee Chin Laung Lei Katherine N. Lemon Nancy J. Lightner Mark Lycett D. Harrison McKnight Gregory Madey Karon Meehan Thomas Miller Ramiro Montealegre Peter Mykytyn Nikos Mylonopoulos Wonseok Oh Bob O’Keefe Jonathan Palmer Purushottam Papatla Donn B. Parker Paul A. Pavlou Kenneth Peffersr Roger A. Pick Simpson Poon Gerald Post Chris Preist T.S. Ragunathan K. Ramamurthy Bharat Rao H.R. Rao R. Ravichandran Sury Ravindran Gautam Ray Frederick J. Riggins Nicholas C. Romano Timo Saarinen Tuomas Sandholm Petra Schubert Al Segars Ravi Sen Marla Stafford Thomas Stafford Katarina Stanoewska-Slabeva William Spangler Diomidis Spinellis Troy J. Strader Mani Subramani Chandrasekar Subramaniam Ashok Subramanian Bernard Tan Mohan Tanniru Alfred Taudes Ron Thompson Hock-Hai Teo Thompson Teo James Y.L. Thong Leon van der Torre Gregory E. Truman Y. Alex Tung Ilkka Tuomi Rustam Vahidov Vasja Vehovar Alfredo Vellido N. Venkatraman Peter C. Verhoef Gottfried Vossen G. R. Wagner Bin Wang Richard Wang Sidne Ward Thomas Weber Larry West Fons Wijnhoven Charles Willow Jane Kaufman Winn Byungjoon Yoo Han Zhang Ping Zhang Lina Zhou Moshe Zviran

As both our submission volume and readership expand, I would like to welcome the new members of the IJEC Editorial Board: Patrick Y.K. Chau of the University of Hong Kong, Judith Gebauer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Katherine N. Lemon of Boston College.