Information Systems and e-Business Management

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 817–829 | Cite as

To compete or to take over? An economic analysis of new sellers on e-commerce marketplaces

Original Article


The rise of e-commerce has inspired entrepreneurs to start their businesses online. E-commerce platforms, such as eBay, Amazon Marketplace, and Taobao, feature low barriers of entry to their sellers, as there is very low cost involved in entering an online marketplace and becoming a seller. In the meantime, we observe that many sellers choose to incur a much higher cost and enter the marketplace by taking over an existing seller’s account. We identify an interesting problem faced by entrants to online marketplaces: should they enter as new or should they take over another seller? Entrants’ decisions are complicated by several factors, including the reputation of the existing seller, the entrant’s capability, and the information asymmetry between the entrant and the incumbent. We develop an economic model to study the interactions between an entrant and an incumbent in an e-commerce marketplace. We discover that reputation plays an important role in the entrant’s competition-takeover decision. Our findings carry useful insights for e-commerce platforms in understanding the impact of entrants on the existing community of sellers.


Online reputation Competition Electronic commerce Analytical modeling Economics of IS 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business and ManagementThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyClearwater Bay, KowloonHong Kong

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