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Inventory competition and incentives to back-order

Author: Netessine, Serguei ; Rudi, Nils ; Wang, YunzengINSEAD Area: Technology and Operations ManagementIn: IIE Transactions, vol. 38, no. 11, November 2006 Language: EnglishDescription: p. 883-902.Type of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: In this paper we consider the issue of inventory control in a multi-period environment with competition on product availability. Specifically, when a product is out of stock, the customer often must choose between placing a back-order or turning to a competitor selling a similar product. We consider a competition in which customers may switch between two retailers (substitute) in the case of a stock-out at the retailer of their first choice. In a multi-period setting, the following four situations may arise if the product is out of stock: (i) sales may be lost; (ii) customers may back-order the product with their first-choice retailer; (iii) customers may back-order the product with their second-choice retailer; or (iv) customers may attempt to acquire the product according to some other more complex rule. The question we address is: how do the equilibrium stocking quantities and profits of the retailers depend on the customers' back-ordering behaviors? In this work we consider the four alternative back-ordering scenarios and formulate each problem as a stochastic multi-period game. Under appropriate conditions, we show that a stationary base-stock inventory policy is a Nash equilibrium of the game that can be found by considering an appropriate static game. We derive conditions for the existence and uniqueness of such a policy and conduct a comparative statics analysis. Analytical expressions for the optimality conditions facilitate managerial insights into the effects of various back-ordering mechanisms. Furthermore, we recognize that often a retailer is willing to offer a monetary incentive to induce a customer to back-order instead of going to the competitor. Therefore, it is necessary to coordinate incentive decisions with operational decisions about inventory control. We analyze the impact of incentives to back-order the product on the optimal stocking policies under competition and determine the conditions that guarantee monotonicity of the equilibrium.
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In this paper we consider the issue of inventory control in a multi-period environment with competition on product availability. Specifically, when a product is out of stock, the customer often must choose between placing a back-order or turning to a competitor selling a similar product. We consider a competition in which customers may switch between two retailers (substitute) in the case of a stock-out at the retailer of their first choice. In a multi-period setting, the following four situations may arise if the product is out of stock: (i) sales may be lost; (ii) customers may back-order the product with their first-choice retailer; (iii) customers may back-order the product with their second-choice retailer; or (iv) customers may attempt to acquire the product according to some other more complex rule. The question we address is: how do the equilibrium stocking quantities and profits of the retailers depend on the customers' back-ordering behaviors? In this work we consider the four alternative back-ordering scenarios and formulate each problem as a stochastic multi-period game. Under appropriate conditions, we show that a stationary base-stock inventory policy is a Nash equilibrium of the game that can be found by considering an appropriate static game. We derive conditions for the existence and uniqueness of such a policy and conduct a comparative statics analysis. Analytical expressions for the optimality conditions facilitate managerial insights into the effects of various back-ordering mechanisms. Furthermore, we recognize that often a retailer is willing to offer a monetary incentive to induce a customer to back-order instead of going to the competitor. Therefore, it is necessary to coordinate incentive decisions with operational decisions about inventory control. We analyze the impact of incentives to back-order the product on the optimal stocking policies under competition and determine the conditions that guarantee monotonicity of the equilibrium.

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