Global and electronic markets are increasingly forcing manufacturing enterprises to become more competitive. As a result, many manufacturing enterprises are seeking to manage their supply chains more effectively. Product differentiation timing is one important factor in supply chain management. Under an early product differentiation process, finished products are manufactured and stored in a distribution center until delivery. Under a delayed product differentiation process, partially completed product components are manufactured and stored in a distribution center; later, based on demand information, finished products are completed from the product components. The difference in value between early product differentiation and delayed product differentiation is the value of postponement. Prior research has analytically shown that the value of postponement is affected by information precision in demand forecasts. In this article, we investigate whether adding a market-making electronic broker to a supply chain increases the value of postponement. We hypothesize that it may do so by providing greater accuracy in demand forecasting. We test this relationship by comparing the results of several agent-based simulations that vary between early and late differentiation strategies and the use of an electronic broker. 1
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