Trade-offs in managing commercial consumer returns for online apparel retail

Sander de Leeuw*, Beatriz Minguela-Rata, Ehsan Sabet, Jaap Boter, Runa Sigurðardóttir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate how online apparel retailers make trade-offs in achieving efficiency in handling consumer returns, attempting to reduce the number of consumer returns they are faced with and increasing sales through returns management. Design/methodology/approach – The authors use literature to develop propositions and employed a case study research design to understand how online apparel retailers make trade-offs in returns management practices in order to verify the propositions. Case study subjects have been anonimized. Findings – The authors have developed and verified five propositions with the aim to understand how retailers make trade-offs in reducing the number of online consumer returns, increasing the effectiveness of handling online consumer returns and increasing sales through returns management. Research limitations/implications – The research is limited by the use of interview data from cases, a focus on apparel retail only and by the use of companies located in the Netherlands only. Practical implications – The propositions help managers make trade-offs in reducing the number of returns versus increasing sales through returns management versus increasing the effectiveness of handling consumer returns. Social implications – Consumer returns lead to a significant flow of items from consumers back to online retailers, in particular in fashion. Reduction of this flow decreases social and environmental impacts through reduced transport and handling requirements. Originality/value – Several authors identify that more empirical research is welcome in the area of returns management. The research aims to contribute to this gap by focussing at how online apparel retailers make trade-offs in achieving efficiency in handling returns, increasing sales through returns management and attempting to reduce the number of consumer returns they receive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)710-731
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Volume36
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Case study
  • E-business
  • Empirical
  • Logistics

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