Although suppliers can sell their goods on e-retailers’ e-platforms through either a wholesale or agency contract, suppliers that produce complementary goods and have different channel roles have been confused as to how to choose an optimal distribution contract. This paper aims to study this problem by considering the combined impacts of suppliers’ channel roles, e-retailer’s referral fees, goods’ differences in the level of complementarity and goods’ differences in potential demand. Our results show that, regardless of one supplier’s distribution contract choice, the other supplier always prefers agency contract, which is independent of two suppliers’ channel roles, the e-retailer’s referral fees, two goods’ differences in the level of complementarity and two goods’ differences in the potential demand. Moreover, when two suppliers use different distribution contracts to sell goods with different levels of complementarity on the same e-retailer’s e-platform, low-complementarity goods have a larger optimal retail price only if the two goods’ differences in the level of complementarity are sufficiently high, and the supplier can obtain more profits by producing low-complementarity goods regardless of the supplier’s distribution contract and channel role.
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