The Agency Model and MFN Clauses
47 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2013 Last revised: 3 Mar 2017
Date Written: January 25, 2017
I provide an analysis of vertical relations in markets with imperfect competition at both layers of the supply chain and where exchange is intermediated either with wholesale prices or revenue-sharing contracts. Revenue-sharing is extremely attractive to firms that are able to set the revenue shares but often makes the firms that set retail prices worse off. This is so whether revenue-sharing lowers or raises industry profits. These results are strengthened when a market moves from the "wholesale model" of sales to the "agency model" of sales, which results in retailers setting revenue shares and suppliers setting retail prices. I also show that retail price-parity restrictions raise industry prices. These results provide a potential explanation for why many online retailers have adopted the agency model and retail price-parity clauses.
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