Case | HBS Case Collection | February 1999 (Revised May 1999)

Onsale, Inc.

by Youngme E. Moon


Onsale has been a pioneer in electronic commerce, offering excess and refurbished goods using an online auction format. The company is now planning to become a player in the highly competitive world of first-run computer merchandise as well. However, unlike other computer resellers whose business models are based on gross margins, the new Onsale model is based on the idea of fixed commissions. The case poses a number of issues raised by the new model, including supplier relationships and brand image management.

Keywords: Business Model; Transformation; Customers; Brands and Branding; Auctions; Network Effects; Strategic Planning; Competitive Strategy; Internet; Online Technology; Retail Industry;


Moon, Youngme E. "Onsale, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 599-091, February 1999. (Revised May 1999.)