Kunz, Timo P., Sven F. Crone and Joern Meissner

The effect of data preprocessing on a retail price optimization system

Decision Support Systems, 84: 27-16, (2016).

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1016/j.dss.2016.01.003

Abstract: Revenue management (RM) is making a significant impact on pricing research and practice, from aviation and hospitality industries to retailing. However, empirical data conditions in retail are distinct to other industries, in particular in the large number of products within and across categories. To set profitable static prices with established RM models, the data is often simplified by data pruning (the exclusion of subsets of data that are deemed irrelevant or unsuitable) and data aggregation (the combination of disparate data points). However, the impact of such data preprocessing, despite being ubiquitous in retailing, is insufficiently considered in current RM research. This could induce potential sources of bias for the demand model estimates, as well as subsequent effects on the price optimization system, the optimized price set, and the profit maxima, which have not yet been investigated. This paper empirically studies the impact of two commonly used data preprocessing techniques in retail RM, data pruning and data aggregation, using simulated and empirical retail scanner data. We numerically assess potential biases introduced by data preprocessing using a systems perspective in estimating a two-stage demand model, the resulting price elasticities, optimized price sets, and the ensuing profit that it yields. Results show that both data aggregation and data pruning bias demand model estimates, albeit with different effect, but both produce less profitable price sets than unbiased reference solutions. The results demonstrate the practical importance of data preprocessing as a cause for estimation bias and suboptimal pricing in retail price optimization systems.

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