Optimal inventory and dynamic admission policies for a retailer of seasonal products with affiliate programs and drop-shipping

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-317
Journal / PublicationNaval Research Logistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


This article investigates the optimal inventory and admission policies for a "Clicks-and-Bricks" retailer of seasonal products that, in addition to selling through its own physical and online stores, also sells through third-party websites by means of affiliate programs. Through postings on partners' webpages, an affiliate program allows a retailer to attract customers who would otherwise be missed. However, this retailer needs to pay a commission for each sale that originates from the website operators participating in the program. The retailer may also refer online orders to other sources (such as distributors and manufacturers) for fulfillment through a drop-shipping agreement and thus earns commissions. This would be an option when, for example, the inventories at the physical stores were running low. Therefore, during the selling horizon, the retailer needs to dynamically control the opening/closing of affiliate programs and decide on the fulfillment option for online orders. On the basis of a discrete-time dynamic programming model, the optimal admission policy of the retailer is investigated in this paper, and the structural properties of the revenue function are characterized. Numerical examples are given to show the revenue impact of optimal admission control. The optimal initial stocking decisions at the physical stores are also studied. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Research Area(s)

  • Admission control, Affiliate program, Drop-shipping, Electronic retailing, Revenue management