While virtual communities (VCs) have been used mainly for information sharing and social networking, little is known as to how online vendors can derive benefits from them in practice. VCs are particularly successful in attracting and retaining members. Online vendors have attempted to capitalize on this characteristic of a virtual community (VC) for obtaining numerous commercial benefits, such as customer service. Online vendors also expect the VC members to become their customers thus improving their online sales. In practice, however, not many online vendors have been successful in converting their VC members into customers. If the VC members could be converted into online customers, online vendors can benefit greatly from having a VC as it is capable of attracting and retaining members. However, there is hardly any study which examines the conversion process of a VC member into an online customer. Therefore, the aim of this study is to examine the transformation process of a VC member into an online customer. Understanding this transformation process would facilitate online vendors in their endeavors for benefiting from their VC. Also, it would provide insights into the usefulness of VC for commercial purposes apart from increasing sales.
Sumeet, Gupta; Kim, Hee-Woong; and Zheng, Raymond Jun, "Converting Virtual Community Members Into Online Purchase Customers" (2006). PACIS 2006 Proceedings. 90.