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Acquiring customers through online marketplaces? : the effect of marketplace sales on sales in a retailer’s own channels

  • Online retailers are increasingly using third-party online marketplaces (e.g., Amazon, Taobao) as an alternative sales channel to their website. While cross-channel sales elasticities have been established for many sales channel combinations (e.g., adding bricks to clicks), we lack an understanding of whether the use of third-party marketplaces grows or cannibalizes a retailer's sales. Practitioners argue that firms can build their e-commerce business through acquiring customers by selling on the marketplace. Indeed, a marketplace could complement a retailer's offering (e.g., acquiring new customer segments), although inventory effects might mitigate this complementarity. Alternatively, cannibalization might occur from losing customers from one's website to the online marketplace. The present research investigates which of the two opposing forces prevails using a time series of category sales data from one of the largest global marketplace sellers. The authors use vector autoregressive modeling to show that marketplace sales increase sales on a retailer's website (0.014% for every 1% in marketplace sales). This effect is strongest for categories with large choice and low product prices. Acquiring customers through the marketplace might be cheaper than through other sources (estimated at 24% of initial sales). However, online retailers should be aware that this strategy strengthens the marketplace and may have potential negative long-term consequences (e.g., through marketplace control of the customer relationship).

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Document Type:Article
Author:Erik MaierORCiD, Jaap WieringaORCiD
Chairs and Professorships:Chair of Marketing and Retail
Parent Title (English):International journal of research in marketing
Issue:2 (June 2021)
Year of Completion:2021
First Page:311
Last Page:328
Tag:Amazon; Cross-channel sales effects; Inventory effect; Online marketplace; Platform
Content Focus:Academic Audience
Peer Reviewed:Yes
Rankings:AJG Ranking / 4
VHB Ranking / A
SJR Ranking / Q1
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt