by Fabio Ancarani and Venkatesh Shankar

This article was published in the Journal of Academy of Marketing Science, 32 (Spring 2004), 176-187.

In this paper, we develop hypotheses on how prices and price dispersion compare among three types of retailers, pure-play Internet, bricks-and-mortar (traditional), and bricks-and-clicks (multichannel) retailers and test them through an empirical analysis of data on the book and compact disc categories inItalyduring 2002. Our results, based on an analysis of 13720 price quotes, show that when posted prices are considered, traditional retailers have the highest prices, followed by multichannel retailers and pure-play e-tailers, in that order. However, when shipping costs are included, multichannel retailers have the highest prices, followed by pure-play e-tailers and traditional retailers, in that order.  With regard to price dispersion, pure-play e-tailers have the highest range of prices, but the lowest standard deviation.  Multichannel retailers have the highest standard deviation in prices with or without shipping costs.  These findings suggest that online markets offer opportunities for retailers to differentiate within and across the retailer types.