Choosing an online retail channel for a manufacturer : direct sales or consignment?

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

International Journal of Production Economics

Publication Date




First Page


Last Page



Elsevier BV


Direct sales, Consignment, Sequential-move game, Simultaneous-move game


We analyze a manufacturer's e-channel decision problem in which the manufacturer selects a direct-sales channel or a third-party consignment channel to complement his existing physical retail channel. We accordingly investigate two possible dual channels: a PD system involving a physical channel and a direct e-channel, and a PC system consisting of a physical channel and a consignment e-channel. For each system, we examine both a sequential-move game and a simultaneous-move game, as the manufacturer can strategically decide to announce his pricing decision before the physical retailer or to make his pricing decision with no communication with the physical retailer. Our analytical results indicate that, if the manufacturer's unit operating cost in the direct e-channel or the e-tailer's revenue allocation ratio in the consignment e-channel is sufficiently small, then the manufacturer has an incentive to adopt an e-channel. The manufacturer can always gain a higher profit by announcing his pricing decision before the physical retailer. If the manufacturer aims at increasing the demand, then he may choose the simultaneous-move game. Moreover, when the manufacturer selects an e-channel to increase his profit, he should adopt a direct e-channel if his unit e-channel operating cost is below a certain threshold that is dependent on the e-tailer's revenue allocation ratio, and adopt a consignment e-channel otherwise. A similar managerial insight is drawn when the manufacturer intends to increase the demand.



Print ISSN


Funding Information

The first author (Cuixia Wang) was partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Research Project Grant Nos. 71461010 and 71461009. The second author (Mingming Leng) was supported by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC) under Research Project Grant No. LU13500015. The third author (Liping Liang) was supported by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC) under Research Project Grant No. LU13500914. {71461010, 71461009, LU13500015, LU13500914}

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version



Recommended Citation

Wang, C., Leng, M., & Liang, L. (2018). Choosing an online retail channel for a manufacturer: Direct sales or consignment? International Journal of Production Economics, 195, 338-358. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpe.2017.11.001