Untangling the Performance Impact of E-marketplace Sellers’ Deployment of Platform-based Functions: A Configurational Perspective

Jicheng Zeng, Yulin Fang, Huifang Li, Youwei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have shown great interest in examining the performance impact of platform-based functions (PBFs) used by e-marketplace sellers and the contingent role of salient variables, such as seller reputation, in the e-marketplace. Their findings, however, are fragmented and inconsistent, as they generally focus on the net, separate effect of a single PBF with debatable findings. The theorization of how sellers should configure multiple types of PBFs as a whole to achieve high sales performance lags far behind the booming
competition practice. To identify an effective PBF combination, this study takes a configurational perspective to identify appropriate PBF configurations that can achieve high sales performance for sellers with different product positions and reputations. A fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) of a congitudinal dataset of over 3,300 apparel sellers in a large e-marketplace yields interesting findings. The configuration results reveal recipes for PBF combinations for achieving high sales performance that vary across different
levels of seller reputation and product positioning strategies. Our configuration findings suggest that sellers should configure PBFs according to distinctive product strategies accompanied by seller reputation conditions, where the resulting PBF configurations play an essential and multifaceted role in achieving high sales performances. Interestingly, our configuration analysis uncovers that for reputable sellers offering highpriced products, the utilization of pricing and marketing functions is counterproductive. Additionally, we observe complex interplays between after-sales functions and online reputation, characterized by
complementary, substitutive, and independent relationships. Furthermore, our results demonstrate an asymmetry relationship between high and low sales configurations. It contributes to the emergent investigation of causal complexity in competitive strategy studies of e-marketplace sellers and provides specific causal recipes and holistic guidelines for sellers and platform operators.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Systems Research
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 28 Apr 2024


  • platform-based functions,
  • sales performance,
  • configurational approach,
  • seller reputation
  • product positioning
  • e-marketplace
  • qualitative comparative analysis


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