Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Study Shows It Pays To Shop Around Online

27.10.2008
Holiday shopping season has arrived, and tough financial times mean that more people will probably be shopping around for the best price. But a new study co-authored by North Carolina State University’s Dr. Jonathan D. Bohlmann shows that shoppers who compare prices at multiple online retailers will not only find the best value, but will also likely contribute to driving down prices for that product at other retailers.

Bohlmann, an associate professor of marketing at NC State, explains that there are basically two types of shoppers: “switchers” and “loyals.” Switchers compare prices from multiple online retailers, while loyals are committed to a particular store and don’t bother with comparison-shopping.

Bohlmann explains that the higher the number of switchers relative to the number of loyals – or the so-called switcher/loyal ratio – the higher the pressure a retailer faces to discount products in order to remain competitive.

However, it’s not quite that simple. An online retailer doesn’t only look at its own switcher/loyal ratio; it has to consider the ratios of its competitors. Bohlmann explains that a retailer with a high switcher/loyal ratio may keep prices high if its competitors have an even higher ratio. These ratios, and the size of the retailers, are all considerations that are taken into account when stores set their prices.

Retailers can have a variety of responses to increased pressure from switchers to discount their prices. For example, the study shows that some smaller retailers may try to focus on the loyal market – and higher prices – by avoiding price comparison Web sites and other tools used by switchers who shop around. Meanwhile, mid-sized retailers may take yet another approach, choosing to compete only against larger rivals – essentially trying to beat the big retailers’ prices while still charging more than some smaller stores.

But all of this comparison-shopping could be bad news for those shoppers who are loyal customers of large retailers. The study’s findings suggest that if there are a lot of switchers widely comparing prices, big stores should limit themselves to a few small discounts – since other companies are likely to offer more aggressive price incentives.

The study, “Segmented Switchers and Retailer Pricing Strategies,” was published in the May issue of Journal of Marketing. It was co-authored by Dr. Cenk Kocas, associate professor of marketing at Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey.

“Segmented Switchers and Retailer Pricing Strategies”

Authors: Dr. Jonathan D. Bohlmann, North Carolina State University; Dr. Cenk Kocas, Sabanci University

Published: May 2008, Journal of Marketing

Abstract: Empirical studies reveal a surprisingly wide variety of pricing strategies among retailers, even among Internet sellers of undifferentiated homogenous goods such as books and music CDs. Several empirical findings remain puzzling, particularly that within the same market some small retailers decide to deeply discount, while other small retailers forgo the price-sensitive switchers and price high. We present theoretical and empirical analyses that address these varied pricing strategies. Our model of three asymmetric firms shows that under multiple switcher segments, where different switchers compare prices at different retailers, firm-specific loyalty is not sufficient to explain the variety of pricing strategies. We demonstrate that a retailer’s strategy to discount deeply or frequently is driven by the ratio of the size of switcher segments for which the retailer competes to its loyal segment size. The relative switcher-to-loyal ratios among retailers explain when a small retailer finds it optimal to price high, despite having few loyals, or to discount and go for the switchers. The results of two empirical studies confirm our model’s predictions for varied pricing strategies in the context of Internet booksellers. Our analyses also present several implications. A small retailer can sometimes benefit from strategically limiting its access to switchers in order to soften price competition. A mid-sized retailer can benefit from targeting its switcher acquisition activities towards its larger rival, given the more shallow discounts involved. When most switchers widely compare prices, a large retailer should offer few shallow discounts since other firms will more aggressively discount. The importance of switcher segmentation suggests that managers should carefully measure switching behavior in devising pricing strategies.

Matt Shipman | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>