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Competition Between Local and Electronic Markets: How the Benefit of Buying Online Depends on Where You Live

  • Chris Forman


    (College of Management, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30308)

  • Anindya Ghose


    (Stern School of Business, New York University, New York, New York 10012)

  • Avi Goldfarb


    (Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6, Canada)

Our paper shows that the parameters in existing theoretical models of channel substitution such as offline transportation cost, online disutility cost, and the prices of online and offline retailers interact to determine consumer choice of channels. In this way, our results provide empirical support for many such models. In particular, we empirically examine the trade-off between the benefits of buying online and the benefits of buying in a local retail store. How does a consumer's physical location shape the relative benefits of buying from the online world? We explore this problem using data from on the top-selling books for 1,497 unique locations in the United States for 10 months ending in January 2006. We show that when a store opens locally, people substitute away from online purchasing, even controlling for product-specific preferences by location. These estimates are economically large, suggesting that the disutility costs of purchasing online are substantial and that offline transportation costs matter. We also show that offline entry decreases consumers' sensitivity to online price discounts. However, we find no consistent evidence that the breadth of the product line at a local retail store affects purchases.

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Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 55 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 47-57

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:55:y:2009:i:1:p:47-57
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  1. Yunchuan Liu & Sunil Gupta & Z. John Zhang, 2006. "Note on Self-Restraint as an Online Entry-Deterrence Strategy," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(11), pages 1799-1809, November.
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  3. Brynjolfsson, Erik & Smith, Michael D. & Yu, (Jeffrey) Hu, 2003. "Consumer Surplus in the Digital Economy: Estimating the Value of Increased Product Variety at Online Booksellers," Working papers 4305-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  4. Siva Viswanathan, 2005. "Competing Across Technology-Differentiated Channels: The Impact of Network Externalities and Switching Costs," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(3), pages 483-496, March.
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  7. Goolsbee, Austan, 2001. "Competition in the Computer Industry: Online versus Retail," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 487-99, December.
  8. Sridhar Balasubramanian, 1998. "Mail versus Mall: A Strategic Analysis of Competition between Direct Marketers and Conventional Retailers," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(3), pages 181-195.
  9. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
  10. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
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  12. Prince, Jeffrey T., 2007. "The beginning of online/retail competition and its origins: An application to personal computers," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 139-156, February.
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