Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Social Commerce Design: A Framework and Application

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Social Commerce Design: A Framework and Application

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

The birth of social commerce (s-commerce) happened with the evolution of e-commerce and the widespread use of social media. Introduced by Yahoo in 2005, it quickly became a means for adding value to commercial services through the use of customer engagement by major web companies, such as Amazon, Groupon and eBay [33]. According to a 2011 survey by Forrester Research of 5,000 online shoppers, most purchases were made based on recommendations obtained through the web community and social media channels [76]. The study found that shoppers' buying behavior was significantly influenced by the following sources: customer reviews (71%), community forums (45%), Facebook wall (31%), videos (30%), and Facebook fan page (25%). By 2019, enterprise social networks are expected to generate more than 3 billion U.S. dollars in revenue worldwide (Site 1).

Despite the rapid growth and increasing influence of s-commerce, academic research on this topic is still at its early stage with a limited number of empirical studies [33] and less than satisfactory level of contribution to practitioners [4] regarding how to effectively manage s-commerce (its modeling, design framework, and applications). Hence, we develop a framework, which could be useful to both academics and practicing managers for designing s-commerce and assessing its performance. The primary research question of this study is: what components need to be included in an s-commerce design framework? Based on the integration of previous studies of s-commerce and the existing knowledge of online businesses, we develop a new framework and a set of metrics/principles for s-commerce design.

The proposed framework includes four key elements in the design and evaluation of a company's s-commerce: customer, merchant, platform, and context. Customer and Merchant are the actors of s-commerce and characterized by personal background and organizational factors respectively. Customer and Merchant communicate, share, and collaborate through the Platform, which involves four entities: Activities, Information, Management and Technology. Finally, s-commerce takes place in a Context, which is characterized by Spatial, Time, and macroscopic dimensions (Economic, Social, Environmental, and Legal/Political, factors).

To assess the effectiveness of our proposed s-commerce framework, we applied the cross-case synthesis technique [74] through a comparative analysis of two companies that are successful in s-commerce, Cat Emporium and Nike. We chose these two firms as a representative at each end of the enterprise size spectrum: Cat Emporium as a small-medium enterprise (SME) and Nike as a large global firm. We also used negative case analysis to assess the importance of a new component Context by examining the negative case of Smucker's Facebook scandal vis-a-vis the two successful companies (Cat café and Nike). Through this comparative analysis, we aim to prove the general applicability of our proposed framework.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 presents a literature review of s-commerce including definitions and frameworks. In Section 3, we develop a new framework with four components: customer, merchant, platform and context. In Section 4, the framework is applied to evaluate its performance via social websites and networks of three companies, Cat Emporium and Nike through the cross-case synthesis technique, as well as Smucker's Facebook scandal through the negative case analysis approach. Section 5 discusses metrics that enable managers to successfully navigate their s-commerce space, implications, limitations and future research needs. Section 6 presents the conclusions.

2 Literature Review

The rapid increase in popularity of social media and Web 2.0 has given rise to s-commerce applications by firms of all sizes. This development has also drawn academics' attention and interest to analyze the characteristics, use, and success factors of s-commerce to help practitioners find ways to leverage it for improved business performance [60]. …

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