MANUFACTURING & SERVICE OPERATIONS MANAGEMENTforthcoming
Chung, Hakjin | Hyun-Soo Ahn | So Yeon Chun
Problem definition: Reward points function as a new currency that consumers can spend on products and services. We study how point redemption affects the seller’s day-to-day pricing and inventory decisions. Academic/practical relevance: Despite widespread use of point redemption, little has been done on its implication on the seller’s operational decisions. This paper extends the revenue management literature to incorporate the impact of point redemption and provides managerial insights on how the seller can factor point redemption into decisions about price and inventory. Methodology: We develop a choice model in which a consumer chooses to pay with cash or points based on the attributes of reservation price, point balance, and the perceived value of a point. We incorporate this choice model into a dynamic model where a seller adjusts the price along with redemption availability and the required point amount. Results: We show that the effect of point redemption on the seller’s price is nontrivial, as the optimal price tilts upward or downward to the reimbursement rate (the compensatory revenue for a reward sale) depending on the inventory level, time, and the reimbursement rate. Furthermore, such price adjustments can attenuate the optimal markup/markdown level, reducing the price fluctuation derived by a dynamic pricing policy in the absence of reward sales. We find that operationalizing reward sales with some discretionary policies (e.g., control over the reward availability or point requirement) can considerably increase the seller’s revenue. Managerial implications: Our results guide how sellers manage prices and inventory dynamically when consumers can redeem points for purchases. Specifically, we show that a seller can benefit from allowing reward sales even when the reimbursement rate is substantially lower than the cash price. Although the seller benefits from having full control over the required point balance, the greatest benefit can be realized via the control of reward availability.