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Impact of Web-Based e-Commerce on Channel Strategy


  • King, Ruth C.

    (U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  • Sen, Ravi

    (U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  • Xia, Mu

    (U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)


The existing literature and industry trends suggest that web-based channels are fast becoming an integral part of the traditionally offline retailers' overall channel strategy. This paper takes a game theoretic approach to study the impact of web-based e-commerce on the choice of distribution channel strategy by the retailers. The current practice by most firms is to adopt a multi-channel strategy, which includes both web-based channels and preexisting offline channels. Our analysis validates this trend by identifying it as one of the equilibriums of the game, resulting from the competitive pressure induces by the other retailers. However, a more interesting outcome from our analysis is that there are other possible outcomes. The other possible outcomes include one where some sellers adopt a coordinated dual channel (i.e., both online and offline) strategy while the others continue selling through traditional offline channels, and another one where all the sellers switch to online channels. The latter outcome is unlikely to occur for industries where traditionally offline sellers have invested heavily in distribution-specific assets. However, it does provide an explanation for new web-based sellers' reluctance to include offline channels in their overall channel strategy.

Suggested Citation

  • King, Ruth C. & Sen, Ravi & Xia, Mu, 2002. "Impact of Web-Based e-Commerce on Channel Strategy," Working Papers 02-0123, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:illbus:02-0123

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rajiv Lal & Miklos Sarvary, 1999. "When and How Is the Internet Likely to Decrease Price Competition?," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(4), pages 485-503.
    2. Minakshi Trivedi, 1998. "Distribution Channels: An Extension of Exclusive Retailership," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(7), pages 896-909, July.
    3. Vicki G. Morwitz & David C. Schmittlein, 1998. "Testing New Direct Marketing Offerings: The Interplay of Management Judgment and Statistical Models," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(5), pages 610-628, May.
    4. Lumpkin, James R. & Hawes, Jon M. & Darden, William R., 1986. "Shopping patterns of the rural consumer: Exploring the relationship between shopping orientations and outshopping," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 63-81, February.
    5. Erik Brynjolfsson & Michael D. Smith, 2000. "Frictionless Commerce? A Comparison of Internet and Conventional Retailers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(4), pages 563-585, April.
    6. 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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