Can Free-Shipping Hurt Online Retailers? Evidence from Online Grocery Shopping
44 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2014 Last revised: 8 May 2020
Date Written: January 28, 2020
In this paper, we investigate optimal pricing strategies for an online grocery retailer that derives its profits from delivery fees and grocery sales. We base our theoretical framework on the well-established work of Schmalensee (1981) in two-part pricing, while allowing for repeat purchase occasions. We derive testable implications that we take to data using a unique dataset detailing transaction information from an online grocery retailer in a Western European country. We find that an increase in the number of deliveries is associated with a greater-than proportional increase in grocery sales, implying that preferences for deliveries and groceries are negatively correlated. Therefore, counter to the current popularity of free shipping, the observed strategy of discounting groceries and charging high delivery fees appears to be optimal in our empirical setting.
Keywords: Metering, price discrimination, online grocery sales
JEL Classification: L11, L86, M20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation