Supply Chain Coordination with Revenue-Sharing Contracts: Strengths and Limitations


with Gérard P. Cachon


January, 2005


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Under a revenue-sharing contract, a retailer pays a supplier a wholesale price for each unit purchased plus a percentage of the revenue the retailer generates. Such contracts have become more prevalent in the video cassette rental industry relative to the more conventional wholesale price contract. This paper studies revenue-sharing contracts in a general supply chain model with revenues determined by each retailer's purchase quantity and price. Demand can be deterministic or stochastic and revenue is generated either from rentals or outright sales. Our model includes the case of a supplier selling to a classical fixed-price newsvendor or a price-setting newsvendor. We demonstrate that revenue sharing coordinates a supply chain with a single retailer (i.e., the retailer chooses optimal price and quantity) and arbitrarily allocates the supply chain's profit. We compare revenue sharing to a number of other supply chain contracts (e.g., buy-back contracts, price-discount contracts, quantity-flexibility contracts, sales-rebate contracts, franchise contracts, and quantity discounts). We find that revenue sharing is equivalent to buy backs in the newsvendor case and equivalent to price discounts in the price-setting newsvendor case. Revenue sharing also coordinates a supply chain with retailers competing in quantities, e.g., Cournot competitors or competing newsvendors with fixed prices. Despite its numerous merits, we identify several limitations of revenue-sharing contracts to (at least partially) explain why they are not prevalent in all industries. In particular, we characterize cases in which revenue sharing provides only a small improvement over the administratively cheaper wholesale price contract. Additionally, revenue sharing does not coordinate a supply chain with demand that depends on costly retail effort. We develop a variation on revenue sharing for this setting.


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