Optimal Pricing, Ordering, and Return Policies for Consumer Goods
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Our research addresses a firm that sells a product to consumers who are sensitive to both price and return policy. The operational decisions of interest are the selling price, return policy, and quantity of new product to purchase. We model a single selling season that is split into two periods where the boundary between periods is delineated by the opportunity to recover product returns and resell them. That is, returns in the first period can be recovered and sold in the second period. Returns also arise in the second period, but these may only be salvaged. We first analyze both deterministic and stochastic models, finding that the deterministic results largely carry over to the stochastic case. In addition, our results indicate that the model is quite insensitive to errors in the estimates of the parameter values, except for purchase cost and parameters related to demand. Finally, we perform an analysis on the value of various investments to improve financial performance. Results indicate that investments to reduce the recovery cost of returns or reduce returns uncertainty are minimal, while investments to increase recovery speed, reduce market uncertainty, and reduce the return rate can be quite valuable.