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Keywords:

  • multi-channel management;
  • retail operations;
  • electronic commerce;
  • game theory

Rapid advances of information technology in recent years have enabled both the manufacturers and the retailers to operate their own Internet channels. In this study, we investigate the interaction between the capabilities of introducing the Internet channels, the pricing strategies, and the channel structure. We classify consumers into two segments: grocery shoppers attach a higher utility from purchasing through the physical channel, whereas a priori Internet shoppers prefer purchasing online. We find that when the Internet shoppers are either highly profitable or fairly unimportant, the manufacturer prefers to facilitate the channel separation either through his own Internet channel or the retailer's. In the intermediate region, however, the manufacturer encroaches the grocery shoppers and steals the demand from the retailer's physical channel. With horizontal competition between retailers, a priori symmetric retailers may adopt different channel strategies as a stable market equilibrium. The manufacturer may willingly give up his Internet channel and leverage on the retailer competition. When the manufacturer sells through an online e-tailer, Internet shoppers may be induced to purchase through the physical channel. This reverse encroachment strategy emerges because selling through the e-tailer leads to a more severe double marginalization problem.