Optimal E-tailing channel structure and service contracting in the platform era

Tana SIQIN, Tsan-Ming CHOI*, Sai-Ho CHUNG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Today, many e-tailers sell through e-platforms. Some of them sell products through both their own direct-online (DO) sales channel and e-platforms, while some give up their own DO sales channel and sell solely through e-platforms. Motivated by the popularity of e-platforms, we explore in this paper the optimal channel selection and e-platform service contracting problem. We build analytical models to explore “when” an e-tailer should choose “which” channel structure. Based on the commonly-observed industrial practices, in the basic models, we derive the optimal e-platform service contract which is a revenue-sharing plus fixed fee (RSF) service contract. We establish the conditions under which the e-tailer's optimal channel selection choice will also be optimal for the e-platform systems. To test robustness of the research findings, three extensions are examined. For the extended model with a separate manufacturer, as well as the extended analysis with a social welfare optimization objective, we reveal that all the findings in the basic models remain valid. However, when the e-tailer decides both product pricing and quality, we uncover that the RSF service contract fails to achieve robust systems optimization. We hence show how the use of a cost-sharing RSF service contract can help.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102614
Number of pages20
JournalTransportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review
Early online date2 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The work of Tsan-Ming Choi was supported by Yushan Fellow Program under Grant NTU-110VV012.


  • Channel structure
  • Coordination
  • E-platforms
  • Service contract
  • Supply chain management


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