Already for a long time retailers have taken back products. In this paper we explore the factors contributing to the decision of combining vs separating inbound and outbound flows during the return handling process. We do so through a comparative analysis of the operations in nine retailer warehouses, which can be divided into three groups: food retailers, non-food store chains and mail order companies. We identify both aggravating factors and facilitating actions for return handling. Furthermore, we bring about recommendations for practice. At the end we put forward propositions that are useful in feeding studies on return handling efficiency. In particular, we conjecture over the impact that return volume and product diversity have on the decision for combining vs separating the reverse and forward flows.
International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 1, 2002
Keywords: Retailing; Inbound logistics; Outbound logistics; Operations management; Warehousing
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