Investment and Pricing Decisions in the Rent-to-Own Industry in the Presence of Stock Outs



This study addresses the product investment decision faced by firms in the rent-to-own industry. In this setting, a customer arrives according to a random process and requests one unit of a product to rent (and eventually own should he/she choose to make all the required payments). At the time of request, if the product is available in inventory, the firm enters into a contractual agreement (by accepting the customer’s bid) and rents the merchandise. More interesting and the case considered here, if the requested item is not in inventory, the firm must decide whether to purchase the item in order to rent it out or to simply reject the bid. The bid specifies the desired maximum contract length and the payment frequency—from which the firm determines the fixed periodic payment charged. The firm makes its investment decision based on the characteristics of the bid as well as those of the product (e.g., initial and resale values, useful life and carrying costs) in essence performing a complicated cost-benefit analysis. An extension is also considered whereby instead of simply rejecting the id the firm can adjust the required payment amount. Dynamic programming techniques are used to address the problem and to solve for the firm’s optimal decision.
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Daniel Potthoff Wilco van den Heuvel
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