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Title: Effects of Platform Design on the Customer Experience in an Online Solar PV Marketplace

Abstract

We analyze a unique dataset of residential solar PV quotes offered in an online marketplace to understand how platform design changes affect customer outcomes. Three of the four design changes are associated with statistically significant and robust reductions in offer prices, though none of the policies were designed explicitly to reduce prices. The results suggest that even small changes in how prospective solar PV customers interact with installers can affect customer outcomes such as prices. Specifically, the four changes we evaluate are: 1) a customer map that shows potential new EnergySage registrants the locations of nearby customers; 2) a quote cap that precludes more than seven installers from bidding on any one customer; 3) a price guidance feature that informs installers about competitive prices in the customer's market before they submit quotes; and 4) no pre-quote messaging to prohibit installers from contacting customers prior to offering quotes. We calculate descriptive statistics to investigate whether each design change accomplished its specific objectives. Then, we econometrically evaluate the impacts of the design changes on PV quote prices and purchase prices using a regression discontinuity approach.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [2];  [2]
  1. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
  2. Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
OSTI Identifier:
1437223
Report Number(s):
NREL/TP-6A20-71178
DOE Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; 14 SOLAR ENERGY; solar; quotes; online marketplaces

Citation Formats

OShaughnessy, Eric J., Margolis, Robert M., Leibowicz, Benjamin, and Punjabi, Kunal. Effects of Platform Design on the Customer Experience in an Online Solar PV Marketplace. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.2172/1437223.
OShaughnessy, Eric J., Margolis, Robert M., Leibowicz, Benjamin, & Punjabi, Kunal. Effects of Platform Design on the Customer Experience in an Online Solar PV Marketplace. United States. doi:10.2172/1437223.
OShaughnessy, Eric J., Margolis, Robert M., Leibowicz, Benjamin, and Punjabi, Kunal. Wed . "Effects of Platform Design on the Customer Experience in an Online Solar PV Marketplace". United States. doi:10.2172/1437223. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1437223.
@article{osti_1437223,
title = {Effects of Platform Design on the Customer Experience in an Online Solar PV Marketplace},
author = {OShaughnessy, Eric J. and Margolis, Robert M. and Leibowicz, Benjamin and Punjabi, Kunal},
abstractNote = {We analyze a unique dataset of residential solar PV quotes offered in an online marketplace to understand how platform design changes affect customer outcomes. Three of the four design changes are associated with statistically significant and robust reductions in offer prices, though none of the policies were designed explicitly to reduce prices. The results suggest that even small changes in how prospective solar PV customers interact with installers can affect customer outcomes such as prices. Specifically, the four changes we evaluate are: 1) a customer map that shows potential new EnergySage registrants the locations of nearby customers; 2) a quote cap that precludes more than seven installers from bidding on any one customer; 3) a price guidance feature that informs installers about competitive prices in the customer's market before they submit quotes; and 4) no pre-quote messaging to prohibit installers from contacting customers prior to offering quotes. We calculate descriptive statistics to investigate whether each design change accomplished its specific objectives. Then, we econometrically evaluate the impacts of the design changes on PV quote prices and purchase prices using a regression discontinuity approach.},
doi = {10.2172/1437223},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed May 09 00:00:00 EDT 2018},
month = {Wed May 09 00:00:00 EDT 2018}
}

Technical Report:

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