Dynamic Pricing under Competition on Online Marketplaces: A Data-Driven Approach
Rainer Schlosser (Hasso Plattner Institute); Martin Boissier (Hasso Plattner Institute)
Most online markets are characterized by competitive settings and limited demand information. Due to the complexity of such markets, efficient pricing strategies are hard to derive. We analyze stochastic dynamic pricing models in competitive markets with multiple offer dimensions, such as price, quality, and rating. In a first step, we use a simulated test market to study how sales probabilities are affected by specific customer behaviors and the strategic interaction of price reaction strategies. Further, we show how different state-of-the-art learning techniques can be used to estimate sales probabilities from partially observable market data. In a second step, we use a dynamic programming model to compute an effective pricing strategy which circumvents the curse of dimensionality. We demonstrate that the strategy is applicable even if the number of competitors is large and their strategies are unknown. We show that our heuristic can be tuned to smoothly balance profitability and speed of sales. Further, our approach is currently applied by a large seller on Amazon for the sale of used books. Sales results show that our data-driven strategy outperforms the rule-based strategy of an experienced seller by a profit increase of more than 20%.