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Why Fixed-Price Policy Prevails: The Effect of Trade Frictions and Competition

Selcuk, Cemil and Gokpinar, Bilal (2023): Why Fixed-Price Policy Prevails: The Effect of Trade Frictions and Competition.

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Fixed-price selling is common in today's markets. While previous research in marketing and economics literatures provide several intuitive reasons for the emergence of fixed-price selling (e.g. clarity and simplicity of managing the fixed-price process, reduced coordination and information costs) our study offers an entirely different rationale---based on market competition and trade frictions---that explains the prevalence of fixed-price selling. Using a market equilibrium approach, and employing a novel competitive search framework to account for a fully competitive and dynamic market, we offer a new and micro-founded account for the widespread use of fixed pricing policy. Considering three important market characteristics---customer risk aversion, the degree of trade frictions and the level of market competition---we explore the strategic choice between the fixed-price, best-offer, and over-the-sticker pricing policies. Unlike the standard models in the literature, which are based Hotelling, Cournot, Bertrand frameworks, the competitive search framework enables us to model competition with a large number of buyers and sellers, and to vary the degree of competition accordingly. We find that fixed pricing emerges as the unique or the de-facto selling rule in most parameter regions. Indeed, the only region where haggling matters is the case in which customers are risk neutral and trade frictions are significant and market competition is moderate.

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