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

Eric OShaughnessy, Robert Margolis, Benjamin Leibowicz, Kunal Punjabi

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


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.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages32
StatePublished - 2018

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-71178


  • online marketplaces
  • quotes
  • solar


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