Lump-sum payments and retail services: A relational contracting perspective

How should manufacturers motivate their retailers to provide customer services? The vertical restraints literature tells us that retail competition distorts service incentives in the short run. We consider how repeated interaction mitigates the problem---particularly how a manufacturer can provide service incentives with discretionary lump-sum payments. We find that such payments may allow the manufacturer to sustain optimal service levels even if retailers are very impatient. We also show that banning reverse lump-sum payments may deprive consumers of the chance to enjoy high-quality services, and thereby reduce their welfare.