Intermediaries in E-Commerce

Intermediaries in E-Commerce

Sergey Yablonsky (St. Petersburg University, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch005
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Introduction

This article discusses business models in a general way and about business models of intermediaries in e-commerce in particular. It provides a broad overview of e-intermediaries, specifies e-intermediary taxonomy, proposes and examines main business models and cases. Good representation of e-intermediaries business models can help to illuminate important dimensions of a problem – in our case, to understand and classify platform e-intermediaries across different markets. We illustrate, analyze and classify e-intermediaries by means of ontologies, in particular lightweight ontologies – taxonomies. Our research was motivated by the observation that various descriptions of e-intermediaries implement the concept of a multi-sided platform business model on similar core concepts with distinct features. Having a common language in turn makes it easier to visualize e-intermediaries using a common set of representation techniques. Thus we illustrate how the e-finance innovative services taxonomy can be complemented by the real instances in the global and emerging markets. This paper conducts a systematic mapping study on intermediaries in e-commerce research. The qualitative research presented in this paper aims to collect and analyze quality data regarding the current status and prospective evolution of e-intermediaries offered by leading e-commerce and banking companies that are running businesses in the e-commerce sectors. The analysis methodology incorporates information from different but interrelated sources that form a representative sample of the domain:

  • Research papers and text books, published from 2001 up to 2015;

  • Reported and observed trends and e-commerce activity. This study incorporates data from 2001 up to 2015 from internet (blogs, web conferences, etc.);

  • E-finance services briefings, press releases, market and company’s reports and other publicly available information;

  • Open ontologies and taxonomies including e-commerce domain.

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Background

Digital technologies, including the Internet and other related technologies, are changing the way the companies do business and are a principal driver of the surge of interest in business models (Zott, Amit, & Massa, 2011; Peitz & Waldfogel, 2012; Lee, 2013). The business model concept became prevalent with the beginning of the Internet in the mid-1990s (Timmers, 1998; Zott, Amit, & Massa, 2011). Since then at a general level, the business model has been referred to as a conceptual tool or model (George & Bock, 2009; Osterwalder, 2004; Osterwalder, Pigneur, & Tucci, 2005; Osterwalder & Pigneur, 2010), a framework (Afuah, 2004), a pattern (Brousseau & Penard, 2006; Osterwalder & Pigneur, 2010). Although there are many definitions of business models (Osterwalder & Pigneur, 2010; El Sawy & Pereira 2013) there is no one accepted definition of business model (Zott, Amit, & Massa, 2011).

Some definitions of business models:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Electronic Banking (E-Banking, Internet Banking, Virtual Banking, or Online Banking): All forms of banking services and transactions performed through electronic means. E-banking includes the systems that enable financial institution customers, individuals or businesses, to access accounts, transact business, or obtain information on financial products and services through a public or private network, including the internet.

Internet Intermediaries: Internet intermediaries or e-intermediaries can be defined as organizations bringing together or facilitate transactions between third parties on the Internet.

E-Trading: The facility that provides some or all of the following services. A) Electronic order routing from users to the system, B) Automated trade execution—translating orders into trade, C) Electronic dissemination of bid/offer quotes and depth, D) Post-trade information (transaction price and volume data).

Multi-Sided Financial Platform (MFP): A financial or not financial organization that creates value primarily by enabling direct interactions between two (or more) distinct types of affiliated customers that are using e-financial products and/or services.

Search Multi-Sided Platform (SMSP): An organization that creates value primarily by enabling direct interactions between two main (or more) distinct types of affiliated customers: web/mobile customers and advertisers.

Business Model (BM): A conceptual tool containing a set of objects, concepts and their relationships with the objective to express the business logic of a specific firm. Therefore we must consider which concepts and relationships allow a simplified description and representation of what value is provided to customers, how this is done and with which financial consequences.

Crowd-Funding Multi-Sided Financial Platform (CMFP): An organization that creates value primarily by enabling direct interactions between two main (or more) distinct types of affiliated customers: consumers and funders.

Electronic Finance (E-Finance): A part of e-business and provides financial services through over the Internet, but in general, any network, public or private, can be included.

Digital or Electronic Business (E-Business): E-Business usually refers to a business conducted over the Internet, but in general, any network, public or private, can be included. E-business is a term which includes servicing customers, collaborating with business partners and conducting electronic transactions within an organization, as well as buying and selling.

Taxonomy: Taxonomy is comprised of a hierarchy of concepts linked by a transitive subsumption relation (often called isA or subClassOf) whereby each instance of a class can be inferred to be an instance of all parent classes. Taxonomies are strict hierarchies: each class has at most one parent.

E-Insurance: The application of internet and related information technologies to the production and distribution of insurance services. In a narrower sense, it can be defined as the provision of an insurance cover whereby an insurance policy is solicited, offered, negotiated and contracted online.

Multi-Sided Platform (MSP): Multi-sided platform is an organization that creates value primarily by enabling direct interactions between two (or more) distinct types of affiliated customers Payment systems are classic examples of shared cost-reducing MSPs: they provide an infrastructure which significantly eases transactions between buyers and sellers by eliminating the need for barter.

E-money: The monetary value which is stored on electronic devices and which is acceptable as a means of payment by undertakings other than the issuers.

E-Acquiring: The service payment carried out using credit cards over the Internet.

Business Model Patterns (BMP): Business models with similar characteristics, similar arrangements of business model building blocks, or similar behaviors. BMPs help to understand business model dynamics and serve as a source of inspiration for creating e-commerce business models.

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