Dynamic Pricing for Reusable Resources: The Power of Two Prices


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Motivated by real-world applications such as rental and cloud computing services, we investigate pricing for reusable resources. We consider a system where a single resource with a fixed number of identical copies serves customers with heterogeneous willingness-to-pay (WTP), and the usage duration distribution is general. Optimal dynamic policies are computationally intractable when usage durations are not memoryless, so existing literature has focused on static pricing, whose steady-state reward rate converges to optimality at rate $\mathcal{O}(c^{-1/2})$ when supply and demand scale with $c$. We show, however, that this convergence rate is suboptimal, and propose a class of dynamic "stock-dependent" policies that 1) preserves computational tractability and 2) has a steady-state reward rate converging to optimality faster than $c^{-1/2}$. We characterize the tight convergence rate for stock-dependent policies and show that they can in fact be achieved by a simple two-price policy, that sets a higher price when the stock is below some threshold and a lower price otherwise. Finally, we demonstrate this "minimally dynamic" class of two-price policies to perform well numerically, even in non-asymptotic settings, suggesting that a little dynamicity can go a long way.
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Key words
dynamic pricing,reusable resources,prices
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