Pricing Policy in a Supply Chain: Negotiation or Posted Pricing



This article examines the choice of pricing policy (posted pricing or negotiation) toward end customers in a supply chain. Many retailers actively decide whether or not to encourage negotiation on the shop floor. Of course, the retailer's pricing policy influences not only the retailer's profit, but also the profits of the manufacturers who sell through the retailer. However, little is known about the forces that shape the pricing policy when two self-interested parties interact in a supply chain. We consider two alternative models depending on who has the power to decide the pricing policy: the manufacturer or the retailer. We find that an increase in the wholesale price weakens the retailer's ability to price discriminate through negotiation. Therefore, the retailer prefers negotiation at lower wholesale prices and posted pricing at higher wholesale prices. We also find that whenever the retailer prefers negotiation, the manufacturer does too. Therefore, the retailer's discretion over the pricing policy causes friction only when the retailer wants to use posted pricing, while the manufacturer wishes the retailer to use negotiation. We show that such friction arises only when product availability or the cost of negotiation is moderate. In this case, we show that the manufacturer may offer a substantial discount to persuade the retailer to negotiate. Surprisingly, in this region of friction, a decrease in the supply chain's capacity or an increase in negotiation costs (both of which are typically considered as worsening the retailer's business environment) translates into higher profit for the retailer.