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E-commerce and the Market Structure of Retail Industries

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  • Maris Goldmanis
  • Ali Hortacsu
  • Chad Syverson
  • Onsel Emre

Abstract

While a fast-growing body of research has looked at how the advent and diffusion of e-commerce has affected prices, much less work has investigated e-commerce's impact on the number and type of producers operating in an industry. This paper theoretically and empirically takes up the question of which businesses most benefit and most suffer as consumers switch to purchasing products online. We specify a general industry model involving consumers with differing search costs buying products from heterogeneous-type producers. We interpret e-commerce as having reduced consumers' search costs. We show how such reductions reallocate market shares from an industry's low-type producers to its high-type businesses. We test the model using U.S. data for three industries in which e-commerce has arguably decreased consumers' search costs considerably: travel agencies, bookstores, and new auto dealers. Each industry exhibits the market share shifts predicted by the model. Interestingly, while the industries experienced similar changes, the specific mechanisms through which e-commerce induced them differed. For bookstores and auto dealers, industry-wide declines in small outlets reflected market-specific impacts, evidenced by the fact that more small-store exit occurred in local markets where consumers' use of e-commerce channels grew fastest. For travel agencies, on the other hand, the shifts reflected aggregate changes driven by airlines cutting agent commissions as consumers started buying tickets online.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14166.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Publication status: published as Maris Goldmanis & Ali Hortaçsu & Chad Syverson & �nsel Emre, 2010. "E-Commerce and the Market Structure of Retail Industries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(545), pages 651-682, 06.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14166

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Cited by:
  1. Zentner, Alejandro, 2008. "Online sales, Internet use, file sharing, and the decline of retail music specialty stores," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 288-300, September.
  2. Marc Rysman & Ginger Zhe Jin, 2012. "Platform Pricing at Sports Card Conventions," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2012-015, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  3. Saul Lach & Jose Luis Moraga-Gonzalez, 2009. "Asymmetric Price Effects of Competition," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-049/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  4. Ginger Zhe Jin & Marc Rysman, 2012. "Platform Pricing at Sports Card Conventions," NBER Working Papers 17959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lendle, Andreas & Olarreaga, Marcelo & Schropp, Simon & Vezina, Pierre-Louis, 2012. "There goes gravity : how eBay reduces trade costs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6253, The World Bank.
  6. Robert Clark & Jason Allen & Jean-Francois Houde, 2010. "Price negotiation in differentiated product markets: An analysis of the market for insured mortgages in Canada," 2010 Meeting Papers 1072, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Fershtman, Chaim & Fishman, Arthur & Zhou, Jidong, 2013. "Search and Categorization," MPRA Paper 53166, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Jason Allen & Robert Clark & Jean-François Houde, 2008. "Market Structure and the Diffusion of E-Commerce: Evidence from the Retail Banking Industry," Working Papers 08-32, Bank of Canada.

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