Product Information Websites: Are They Good for Consumers?
Journal of Management Information Systems, Forthcoming
40 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2014 Last revised: 16 Sep 2016
Date Written: August 1, 2016
Product information websites have become ubiquitous in supporting B2C E-Commerce. This paper explores their impact on firm profitability, consumer surplus, and social welfare. Using an analytical model, we show that firms take advantage of such infomediaries and reduce their own information investments, increasing their profitability. Surprisingly, we find that the existence of these websites may actually reduce social welfare. Contrary to the common belief that product information websites are good for buyers, we show that they may be hurting consumers, even when they seek to maximize consumer surplus as their principal goal. These findings question the uncritical acceptance of infomediaries as beneficial to markets in general, and buyers in particular, especially when the infomediaries assume roles than substitute the information disclosure investments that sellers freely choose to make.
Keywords: Product Information, Information Dissemination, Electronic Markets, Information Economics, B2C eCommerce
JEL Classification: C72, D42, D82, D83, L19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation