Already for a long time retailers take 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 in three groups: food retailers, department stores 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.

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Erasmus Research Institute of Management
ERIM Report Series Research in Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

de Koster, R., van de Vendel, M., & de Brito, M. (2001). How to Organise Return Handling (No. ERS-2001-49-LIS). ERIM Report Series Research in Management. Retrieved from