On Aligning Returns Management with the Ecommerce Strategy to Increase Effectiveness
The returns management (RM) process has traditionally been seen as a value recovery
process, which has resulted in an efficiency focus in the returns flow. This thesis
present, the effects on a fashion e-commerce organisation, which is underprioritising or
neglecting RM in general and consumer returns specifically. In the reported and
described single-case study and through a real-life experiment, performed with the
case organisation nelly.com, it is shown that the consumer returns rates are not only
influenced by the product itself. They represent a complex problem that has its reasons
and causes, whereby the product (size, fit, quality, et cetera) together with consumer
buying and returning behaviour ultimately have a combined effect on the organisation.
The results from the thesis are based on previous research and rest heavily on the
research performed since the start of the research journey. Consumer returns form
part of the value creation in e-commerce and therefore returns management is a
strategic part of the business as such.
Handling consumer returns in a traditional or efficient returns system without knowing
the reason for return and the state of the returned item is nothing other than gambling
with resources. The proposed returns information system (RIS) framework in the
thesis addresses this issue and facilitates the downstream application of the
gatekeeping activity, near or at the end-user location; managerial attention is required
at the strategic process level to build a proper returns system that is partly, and quite
Products, suppliers, customers and internal processes cause consumer returns and
therefore a returns manager needs to address these with other functions and SC
partners. This result is partly new and the proposed alignment of RM as a strategic
process is new in the sense that RM is part of value creation. This thesis empirically
supports the conclusion that “one size fits all” is outdated and does not fit with ecommerce
business. The results imply that managers need to gain a profound
understanding of consumers’ buying behaviour and also to create differentiated
delivery and returns processes to be able to grow within the existing customer
segments and possibly to attract new or non-customers who are out of reach at present.
Seeing the RM process as strategic in e-commerce, as proposed in the thesis, facilitates
the development of the process to become both effective and efficient. Returns
management has the potential for revenue creation and cost reduction.
supply chain management