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Merchant or Two-Sided Platform?

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  • Hagiu Andrei

    (Harvard Business School)

Abstract

This paper provides a first pass at comparing two polar strategies for market intermediation: "merchant" mode - buying from sellers and reselling to buyers - and "two-sided platform" mode - enabling affiliated sellers to sell directly to affiliated buyers. The merchant mode is more profitable when the chicken-and-egg problem for the two-sided platform is more severe and when the degree of complementarity among sellers' products is higher. The platform mode is preferred when seller investment incentives are important or when there is asymmetric information regarding seller product quality. We discuss these tradeoffs in the context of several prominent digital intermediaries.

Suggested Citation

  • Hagiu Andrei, 2007. "Merchant or Two-Sided Platform?," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 1-19, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:rneart:v:6:y:2007:i:2:n:3
    DOI: 10.2202/1446-9022.1113
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