Online auction environments provide several sources of information that can be used by bidders to form their bids. One such information set that has been relatively understudied in the literature pertains to reference prices available to the bidder from other concurrent and comparable auctions. In this paper, we study how reference prices from such auctions affect bidding behavior on the focal auction. We also study how the impact of these reference prices is moderated by bidder heterogeneity. Bidders are shown to be influenced by two sets of references prices: internal reference prices from their own historical bidding behavior and external reference prices, formed from other open and just-finished auctions relative to the focal auction. We measure bidder heterogeneity using bidder experience and level of participation in concurrent auctions. Our results show that external reference prices are significantly moderated by bidder heterogeneity. In a departure from current work, we use longitudinal data on auctions and bids in the B2B secondary markets, where goods represent salvage or returned items from big-box retailers and bidders are business buyers. The dataset comprises over 4000 auctions collected from a large liquidator firm in North America and is unique in its comprehensiveness. Our work provides theoretical insights that are complementary to the current set of results from B2C auctions as well as managerial implications for auctioneers in the B2B space.
Best Student Paper Finalist, AOM Conference 2013, Operations Management Division