Creating value from returns by closing the information loop: a systematic literature review

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Article in proceedingAcademic


Purpose: Product returns contain a substantial amount of valuable information within them(Schenkel et al., 2015). However, organizations both undervalue this information (Krikkeet al., 2013) and are struggling to create value from it (Röllecke et al., 2018). Whilere search exists, it is scattered among various research stream making it hard for practitioners to utilize it and for researchers to systematically built upon it. Therefore, the aim of this literature review is to understand how organizations can utilize information embedded in product returns for value creation.

Design/methodology/approach: We conduct a systematic literature review, bringing together relevant research from multiple streams of research. More specifically, this research reviews the literature on circular economy, reverse logistics, closed loop supply chains, and product returns management that focuses on information systems, knowledge management, organizational learning, and information sharing. Content analysis is conducted on 57

Findings: The findings of this study confirm the importance of information systems and theirmanagement in a closed loop supply chain. Nonetheless, businesses cannot simply investheavily in information systems and hope to reap the rewards from product returnsinformation. Rather, focused investments with overall goals in mind should be emphasized.Moreover, this research shows the potential of learning and knowledge managementprocesses and the potential of technologies such as RFID tags and data mining in a closedloop supply chain context.

Value: This is the first literature review that systematically brings together and synthesisesrelevant research works on how to create value from product returns information. Themain contributions of this literature review are to clarify the current knowledge on thistopic, to form a basis upon which further empirical work can be built upon, and to identifygaps in the extant literature thus paving way for fruitful avenues of research.

Research limitations/implications: Relatively small amount of research has been carried out regarding this topic. Much of theresearch has focused on technological and operational issues. However, the potentialbenefits of returns information go beyond operational issues and creating value from thisinformation requires more than technological solutions. Therefore, more research drawing from organizational learning theories and strategic management theories are required toshed light on how firms can utilise returns information for continuous strategic learning.

Practical Contribution: The main practical implications of this research come in the form of a starting point forpractitioners for thinking about implementing practices and processes aimed at creatingvalue from returns information. Moreover, this research highlights the strategic potentialof product returns information.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 24th International Symposium on Logistics (ISL 2019)
Subtitle of host publicationSupply Chain Networks vs Platforms: Innovations, Challenges and Opportunities
EditorsK.S. Pawar, A. Potter, H. Rogers, C. Glock
Place of PublicationNottingham
PublisherNottingham University Business School
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9780853583295
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event24th International Symposium on Logistics: Supply Chain Networks vs Platforms: Innovations, Challenges and Opportunities - Maritim Hotel Wurzburg, Würzburg, Germany
Duration: 14 Jul 201917 Jul 2019


Symposium24th International Symposium on Logistics
Abbreviated titleISL 2019
Internet address


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