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E-commerce and the Market Structure of Retail Industries

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  • Onsel Emre

    (University of Chicago)

  • Ali Hortacsu

    (University of Chicago and NBER)

  • Chad Syverson

    ()
    (University of Chicago and NBER)

Abstract

While a fast-growing body of research has looked at how the advent and di®usion of e- commerce has a®ected prices, much less work has investigated e-commerce's impact on the number and type of ¯rms operating in an industry. This paper theoretically and empirically takes up the question of which producers most bene¯t and most su®er as consumers switch to purchasing products online. We specify a general industry model involving consumers with di®ering search costs buying products from heterogeneous-type producers. We inter- pret e-commerce as having created reductions in consumers' search costs. We show how such shifts in the search cost distribution reallocate market shares from an industry's low- type producers to its high-type businesses. We test the model using data for two industries in which e-commerce has arguably decreased consumers' search costs considerably: travel agencies and bookstores. We ¯nd evidence in both industries of the market share shifts predicted by the model. Interestingly, while both industries experienced similar changes, the speci¯c mechanisms through which e-commerce induced them were di®erent. For travel agencies, the shifts re°ected aggregate changes driven by airlines' reductions in agent com- missions as consumers started buying tickets online. For bookstores, on the other hand, industry-wide declines in small book stores re°ected aggregated market-speci¯c impacts, evidenced by the fact that more small-store exit occurred in those local markets where consumers' use of e-commerce channels grew fastest.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 05-24.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision: Oct 2005
Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:0524

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Web page: http://www.NETinst.org/

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  1. Fiona Scott Morton & Florian Zettelmeyer & Jorge Silva-Risso, 2001. "Internet Car Retailing," NBER Chapters, in: E-commerce, pages 501-519 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1181-1222, December.
  8. Karen Clay & Ramayya Krishnan & Eric Wolff, 2001. "Prices and Price Dispersion on the Web: Evidence from the Online Book Industry," NBER Chapters, in: E-commerce, pages 521-539 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. George J. Stigler, 1961. "The Economics of Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 213.
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  15. Ali Hortacsu & Chad Syverson, 2003. "Product Differentiation, Search Costs, and Competition in the Mutual Fund Industry: A Case Study of the S&P 500 Index Funds," NBER Working Papers 9728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  17. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
  18. Ali Hortaç Su & Chad Syverson, 2004. "Product Differentiation, Search Costs, And Competition in the Mutual Fund Industry: A Case Study of S&P 500 Index Funds," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 403-456, May.
  19. Simon Latcovich & Howard Smith, 2001. "Pricing, Sunk Costs, and Market Structure Online: Evidence from," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 217-234, Summer.
  20. Morton, Fiona Scott & Zettelmeyer, Florian & Silva-Risso, Jorge, 2001. "Internet Car Retailing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 501-19, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Saul Lach & Jose Luis Moraga-Gonzalez, 2009. "Asymmetric Price Effects of Competition," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-049/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Fershtman, Chaim & Fishman, Arthur & Zhou, Jidong, 2013. "Search and Categorization," MPRA Paper 53166, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Ginger Zhe Jin & Marc Rysman, 2012. "Platform Pricing at Sports Card Conventions," NBER Working Papers 17959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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