Editor’s Introduction 8(4)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 8, Number 4, Summer 2004, pp. 5.

Rapid, semantically rich, and apt matching of buyers and sellers in a broad space of offerings and demands is a vital advantage of e-commerce. The Special Issue on the subject, guest-edited by Michael P. Wellman and John Riedl, demonstrates how the emerging technologies of the semantic Web, along with such more established ones as knowledge representation and collaborative filtering, can lead to the creation of newly effective marketplaces. The guest editors will introduce the papers of the section, which includes contracting and standardizations within its wide scope.

Large-scale bundle trading is one of the opportunities made newly possible by e-commerce. Scott Buffett and Bruce Spencer formalize the on-line bundle-purchasing problem and offer a protocol for information exchange between buyer and seller. The message-passing protocol accommodates a decision procedure for the buyer to deal with uncertainty about future availabilities and prices toward improving the expected utility of the acquisition. Electronic matching of buyer to seller is fine, but what if a customer is misdirected to a small business in the vicinity by the geographical directories? As the embedding of e-commerce into general commerce proceeds apace, many small businesses have come to rely on these directories to guide customers to them. As James E. Wyse finds in his exploratory study, they should not. The quality of the map-based locational information provided by popular Web-based business directories is likely to lose them customers.

However, let us turn back to the virtual traffic, and the reliability and the effects of its estimates. Raquel Benbunan-Fich and Eliezer M. Fich show, using the event-study methodology, that the questionable metrics of Web site traffic (referred to as “eyeballs” by cynics and some journalists) released by firms during the Internet Bubble could be associated with their valuation increases during the Bubble. The subscriptions by firms to the providers of the metrics are expensive. The authors’ research shows that the stock-pumping effect of this closed circle of mutual benefit has disappeared along with the Bubble. However, the need for reliable metrics and their reliable use persists. This is another concern in the present climate of stimulating accountability in market-related actions.