Offline Versus Mobile Commerce: Implications for Inequality of Accessing Local Retail Infrastructure in Emerging Markets

51 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2018

See all articles by Xuebin Cui

Xuebin Cui

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Ting Zhu

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management

Yubo Chen

Tsinghua University, School of Economics & Management

Date Written: October 10, 2018

Abstract

There exists large geographic variation in the distribution of local retail establishments in emerging markets. With the rapid development of the mobile internet in recent years, consumers in underdeveloped markets have gained access to mobile shopping. This paper examines whether the usage of mobile commerce apps is affected by the accessibility of local offline retailers. Using a unique dataset of individual-level mobile apps adoption and usage behavior, and real-time location information across 1679 counties in China, the authors find that the consumers with lower access to retail outlets spend more time and make more purchases through mobile commerce apps. Such substitution effect between mobile commerce and local retailers is stronger for consumers with (1) lower mobility and (2) higher digital literacy. The findings suggest that in an emerging market with large variation in accessibility of local services, the mobile service has the potential to mitigate the inequality of accessing physical retail infrastructure. The results provide important implications for policy makers and mobile marketing managers.

Keywords: mobile internet, emerging market, mobile commerce, digital divide

JEL Classification: M15, M31

Suggested Citation

Cui, Xuebin and Zhu, Ting and Chen, Yubo, Offline Versus Mobile Commerce: Implications for Inequality of Accessing Local Retail Infrastructure in Emerging Markets (October 10, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3263871 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3263871

Xuebin Cui

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

Ting Zhu

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management ( email )

1310 Krannert Building
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1310
United States

Yubo Chen (Contact Author)

Tsinghua University, School of Economics & Management ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

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