Demand Management in Decentralized Logistics Systems and Supply Chains

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Caliskan Demirag, Ozgun
Swann, Julie
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We analyze issues arising from demand management in decentralized decision-making environments. We consider logistics systems and supply chains, where companies' operations are handled with independent entities whose decisions affect the performance of the overall system. In the first study, we focus on a logistics system in the sea cargo industry, where demand is booked by independent sales agents, and the agents' capacity limits and sales incentives are determined by a central headquarters. We develop models for the central headquarters to analyze and optimize capacity allocation and sales incentives to improve the performance of the decentralized system. We use network flow problems to incorporate agent behavior in our models, and we link these individual problems through an overall optimization problem that determines the capacity limits. We prove a worst-case bound on the decentralized system performance and show that the choice of sales incentive impacts the performance. In the second study, we focus on supply chains in the automotive industry, where decentralization occurs as a result of the non-direct sales channels of the auto manufacturers. Auto manufacturers can affect their demand through sales promotions. We use a game theoretical model to examine the impact of retailer incentive and customer rebate promotions on the manufacturer's pricing and the retailer's ordering/sales decisions. We consider several models with different demand characteristics and information asymmetry between the manufacturer and a price discriminating retailer. We characterize the subgame-perfect Nash equilibrium decisions and determine which promotion would benefit the manufacturer under which market conditions. We find that the retailer incentives are preferred when demand is known. On the other hand, when demand is highly uncertain the manufacturer is better off with customer rebates. We extend this research by analyzing a competitive setting with two manufacturers and two retailers, where the manufacturers' promotions vary between retailer incentives and customer rebates. We find an equilibrium outcome where customer rebates reduce the competitor's profits to zero. We observe in numerical examples that the manufacturers are able to increase their sales and profits with retailer incentives, although this can be at the expense of the retailers' profits under some situations.
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