Frictionless Commerce? A Comparison of Internet and Conventional Retailers
There have been many claims that the Internet represents a new nearly "frictionless market." Our research empirically analyzes the characteristics of the Internet as a channel for two categories of homogeneous products---books and CDs. Using a data set of over 8,500 price observations collected over a period of 15 months, we compare pricing behavior at 41 Internet and conventional retail outlets. We find that prices on the Internet are 9--16% lower than prices in conventional outlets, depending on whether taxes, shipping, and shopping costs are included in the price. Additionally, we find that Internet retailers' price adjustments over time are up to 100 times smaller than conventional retailers' price adjustments---presumably reflecting lower menu costs in Internet channels. We also find that levels of price dispersion depend importantly on the measures employed. When we compare the prices posted by different Internet retailers we find substantial dispersion. Internet retailer prices differ by an average of 33% for books and 25% for CDs. However, when we weight these prices by proxies for market share, we find dispersion is lower in Internet channels than in conventional channels, reflecting the dominance of certain heavily branded retailers. We conclude that while there is lower friction in many dimensions of Internet competition, branding, awareness, and trust remain important sources of heterogeneity among Internet retailers.
Volume (Year): 46 (2000)
Issue (Month): 4 (April)
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 7240 Parkway Drive, Suite 300, Hanover, MD 21076 USA|
Web page: http://www.informs.org/
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1982.
"Limit Pricing and Entry under Incomplete Information: An Equilibrium Analysis,"
Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 443-459, March.
- Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1998. "Limit Pricing and Entry Under Incomplete Information: An Equilibrium Analysis," Levine's Working Paper Archive 245, David K. Levine.
- Steven C. Salop & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1977.
"Bargains and ripoffs: a model of monopolistically competitive price dispersion,"
Special Studies Papers
94, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Steven Salop & Joseph Stiglitz, 1977. "Bargains and Ripoffs: A Model of Monopolistically Competitive Price Dispersion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 493-510.
- Urban, Glen L. & Sultan, Fareena. & Qualls, William J. 1953-, 1998. "Trust based marketing on the internet," Working papers WP 4035-98., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
- Stahl, Dale O., 1996. "Oligopolistic pricing with heterogeneous consumer search," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 243-268.
- Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-659, September.
- Salop, S & Stiglitz, J E, 1982. "The Theory of Sales: A Simple Model of Equilibrium Price Dispersion with Identical Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1121-1130, December.
- Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1984.
"Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality,"
Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers
709, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Daniel Levy & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Robert Venable, 2005.
"The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U.S. Supermarket Chains,"
- Daniel Levy & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Robert Venable, 1997. "The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U. S. Supermarket Chains," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 791-824.
- John W. Pratt & David A. Wise & Richard Zeckhauser, 1979. "Price Differences in almost Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(2), pages 189-211.
- J. Yannis Bakos, 1997. "Reducing Buyer Search Costs: Implications for Electronic Marketplaces," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(12), pages 1676-1692, December.
- Birger Wernerfelt, 1988. "Umbrella Branding as a Signal of New Product Quality: An Example of Signalling by Posting a Bond," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(3), pages 458-466, Autumn.
- Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
- Dahlby, Bev & West, Douglas S, 1986. "Price Dispersion in an Automobile Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 418-438, April.
- N. Gregory Mankiw, 1998. "Teaching the Principles of Economics," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 519-524, Fall.
- Alan T. Sorensen, 2000. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion in Retail Markets for Prescription Drugs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 833-862, August.
- Van Hoomissen, Theresa, 1988. "Price Dispersion and Inflation: Evidence from Israel," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1303-1314, December.
- Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
- George J. Stigler, 1961. "The Economics of Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 213-213.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:46:y:2000:i:4:p:563-585. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.