IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iuk/wpaper/2006-12.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Persistent Price Dispersion in Online Markets

Author

Listed:
  • Michael R. Baye

    (Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, Indiana University Kelley School of Business)

  • John Morgan

    (Haas School of Business and Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley)

  • Patrick Scholten

    (Bentley College)

Abstract

Using data from one of the Internet’s leading price comparison sites for consumer electronics products, we present evidence for the persistence of price dispersion for 36 homogeneous products. The markets for these products are “thick” with an average of over 20 firms selling each product. We show that prices do not converge to the “law of one price” even after an 18 month period. This finding is robust to controls for differences in shipping charges and inventories. Further, we show that product life cycle effects lead to changes in the number of competing firms and the range of price dispersion consistent with the theoretical predictions of the Varian (1980) model. The average number of competing firms declines from about 28 to 10 during the final five months of our dataset. Over this same period, the average range in prices decreases from about 75 percent to 30 percent. After accounting for firm heterogeneities in costs, branding, reputation, trust, product availability and shipping costs, 28 percent of the variation in prices charged for homogeneous products remains unexplained. This is also consistent with the Varian model.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2006. "Persistent Price Dispersion in Online Markets," Working Papers 2006-12, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:iuk:wpaper:2006-12
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://kelley.iu.edu/riharbau/RePEc/iuk/wpaper/bepp2006-12-baye-morgan-scholten.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-659, September.
    3. Reinganum, Jennifer F, 1979. "A Simple Model of Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 851-858, August.
    4. 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.
    5. Maarten C.W. Janssen & Jose Luis Moraga, 2000. "Pricing, Consumer Search and the Size of Internet Markets," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-042/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. Rosenthal, Robert W, 1980. "A Model in Which an Increase in the Number of Sellers Leads to a Higher Price," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(6), pages 1575-1579, September.
    7. 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.
    8. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2001. "Information Gatekeepers on the Internet and the Competitiveness of Homogeneous Product Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 454-474, June.
    9. Yannis Bakos, 2001. "The Emerging Landscape for Retail E-Commerce," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 69-80, Winter.
    10. Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2009. "Search, Obfuscation, and Price Elasticities on the Internet," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 427-452, March.
    11. Narasimhan, Chakravarthi, 1988. "Competitive Promotional Strategies," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(4), pages 427-449, October.
    12. Baye, Michael R. & Morgan, John, 2002. "Information gatekeepers and price discrimination on the internet," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 47-51, June.
    13. 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.
    14. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-969, July.
    15. Villas-Boas, J Miguel, 1995. "Models of Competitive Price Promotions: Some Empirical Evidence from the Coffee and Saltine Crackers Markets," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(1), pages 85-107, Spring.
    16. Spulber, Daniel F, 1995. "Bertrand Competition When Rivals' Costs Are Unknown," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 1-11, March.
    17. J. Rupert Gatti, 2000. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion with Sequential Search," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1368, Econometric Society.
    18. Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Esteves, Rosa-Branca, 2010. "Pricing with customer recognition," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 669-681, November.
    2. Enrico Bachis & Claudio A. Piga, 2006. "Hub Premium, Airport Dominance and Market Power in the European Airline Industry," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 96(5), pages 11-54, September.
    3. Gerard J. Berg, 2006. "Revolutionary Effects of New Information Technologies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(509), pages 10-28, February.
    4. Erik Brynjolfsson & Astrid Dick & Michael Smith, 2010. "A nearly perfect market?," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 1-33, March.
    5. Michelle Haynes & Steve Thompson, 2013. "Entry and Exit Behavior in the Absence of Sunk Costs: Evidence from a Price Comparison Site," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 42(1), pages 1-23, February.
    6. Claudio A. Piga & Enrico Bachis, 2006. "Pricing strategies by European traditional and low cost airlines. Or, when is it the best time to book on line?," Discussion Paper Series 2006_14, Department of Economics, Loughborough University, revised Jul 2006.
    7. Arnold Michael A. & Pénard Thierry, 2007. "Bargaining and Fixed Price Offers: How Online Intermediaries are Changing New Car Transactions," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 1-27, June.
    8. Zhenlin Yang & Lydia Gan & Fang-Fang Tang, 2007. "A Study of Pricing Evolution in the Online Toy Market," Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series 0704, Nanyang Technological University, School of Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre.
    9. Tim Rathjen, 2011. "Do Time Poor Individuals Pay More?," FFB-Discussionpaper 91, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)), LEUPHANA University Lüneburg.
    10. Brynjolfsson, Erik & Dick, Astrid Andrea & Smith, Michael D., 2004. "Search and Product Differentiation at an Internet Shopbot," Working papers 4441-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    11. Michael A. Arnold & Christine Saliba, 2003. "Price Dispersion in Online Markets: The Case of College Textbooks," Working Papers 03-02, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Price dispersion; Internet; Law of One Price;

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • M3 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iuk:wpaper:2006-12. 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: (Rick Harbaugh). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/dpiubus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.