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EMAC 2023 Annual

Channel Implications of a Business-to-Business Shipping Subscription Program

Published: May 24, 2023


Baris Kocaman, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Sarah Gelper, University of Luxembourg; Fred Langerak, Eindhoven University of Technology; Tom Van Woensel, Eindhoven University of Technology


B2B companies are following suit with the recent uptake of subscription-based shipping in (online) retailing. Yet customer relationships and channel management are more complex in B2B due to the salient salesforce, leaving businesses unsure about the effectiveness of such programs. We address this by studying a shipping subscription program's demand implications (purchase value, frequency, and basket size) across multiple channels (salesperson, online, and store). Using a synthetic control approach, we analyze data from a global B2B high-tech tools manufacturer. Despite an overall null effect of subscription on demand across channels, we show a strong channel substitution effect where subscribers spend more in the salesperson channel yet decrease their online spending. Further analyses illustrate that the substitution is likely related to the transactional aspect (i.e., negotiation) rather than the informational aspect (i.e., product knowledge, consulting) of the salesperson channel.