Marketplace Scalability and Strategic Use of Platform Investment
34 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2019 Last revised: 20 Jun 2022
Date Written: December 20, 2018
The scalability of a marketplace depends on the operations of the marketplace platform as well as its sellers' cost structures and capacities. In this study, we explore one strategy that a marketplace platform can use to enhance its scalability: providing an ancillary service to sellers. In our model, a platform can choose whether and when to provide this service to sellers and, if so, what prices to charge and which types of sellers to serve. While such a service helps small sellers, we highlight that the provision of such a service can diminish large sellers' incentives to make their own investment, thus reducing their potential output. When the output reduction by large sellers is substantial, the platform may not want to provide the ancillary service and, even if it does, it may choose to set a price higher than its marginal cost to motivate large sellers to scale. The platform may also choose to strategically delay providing the service.
Keywords: marketplace, scalability, platform strategy, platform investment
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