IBM Systems Journal

Applications of flexible pricing in business-to-business electronic commerce

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The increasingly dynamic nature of business-to-business electronic commerce has produced a recent shift away from fixed pricing and toward flexible pricing. Flexible pricing, as defined here, includes both differential pricing, in which different buyers may receive different prices based on expected valuations, and dynamic-pricing mechanisms, such as auctions, where prices and conditions are based on bids by market participants. In this paper we survey ongoing work in flexible pricing in the context of the supply chain, including revenue management, procurement, and supply-chain coordination. We review negotiation mechanisms for procurement, including optimization approaches to the evaluation of complex, multidimensional bids. We also discuss several applications of flexible pricing on the sell side, including pricing strategies for response to requests for quotes, dynamic pricing in a reverse logistics application, and pricing in the emerging area of hosted applications services. We conclude with a discussion of future research directions in this rapidly growing area.