Product returns are characterized by considerable uncertainty on time and quantity. In the literature on inventory management for product return environments best forecasts of future returns are associated with methods that use the most information regarding product return history. In practice, however, data is often scarce and unreliable, while forecasts based on historical data, reliable or not, are never perfect. In this paper we therefore investigate the impact of imperfect information with respect to the return process on inventory management performance. We show that in the case of imperfect information the most informed method does not necessarily lead to best performance. The results have relevant implications regarding investments in product return information systems.

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Keywords inventory, product returns, reverse logistics, value of information
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal European Journal of Operational Research
van der Laan, E.A, & de Brito, M.P. (2009). Inventory Control with product returns: the impact of imperfect information. European Journal of Operational Research, 194(1), 85–101. doi:10.1016/j.ejor.2007.11.063