The Competition on Online Marketplaces

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This dissertation examines competition in online marketplaces using data from the largest online marketplace in the U.S.,

The first essay studies direct sales competition between a marketplace operator and third parties that sell their products on the marketplace and examines factors that third-party sellers may use to avoid direct competition with the marketplace operator. I find that third-party sellers can best avoid competing directly with Amazon by selling unbranded products and by marketing products that are fulfilled by Amazon.

The second essay investigates competitive results between the marketplace operator and third-party sellers. I find that despite inherent competitive disadvantages, third-party sellers may increase their likelihood of winning the sales competition against the marketplace operator when they offer a lower price than the marketplace operator and when they use the marketplace operator’s fulfillment services. In addition, a third-party seller using direct fulfillment is less likely to outcompete a seller using operator-managed fulfillment services, but it can be more competitive when it offers lower prices and when it sells low-priced products.

The third essay investigates how employment of the marketplace’s store banner impacts sales performance for both private label products and non-private label products on an online marketplace. I find that directly branding private labels and using store banners on non-private label products are both associated with greater sales performance. In addition, lower-priced products and non-private label products may achieve greater benefits from store banners.

The findings contribute to the online marketplace literature by empirically testing the impact of direct sales, fulfillment services, and store banner use on competition between a marketplace operator and third-party sellers. The findings also contribute to important antitrust considerations.