RETURNS MANAGEMENT BOOK
By Stef de Bont
The ongoing boom in online sales and the rise of circular economies force us to rethink how we do business and how we deal with products after they are sold. The former is often associated with a plethora of undesired customer returns, while for the latter product returns is the necessary fuel to keep the supply system alive. So seemingly the two situations are quite different, but in an important way they are the same: the way that you should deal with them is in terms of value maximization rather than cost minimization. Just like we are beginning to realize that low-cost, low-quality recycling does not do much good for the circular economy, low-cost, low-quality customer return management does not much good for your customers and is, therefore, bad for your business. Over the past two decades, much research has been conducted into closed-loop supply chain management.
This book is the first of its kind to successfully bridge theory and practice. Building on supply chain management theory it carefully explains how in practice product return support creates business value for the supply chain actors. It acknowledges that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work as successful support very much depends on product return drivers (legislation, economics, doing the right thing), product characteristics (market, usage) and customer preferences. Business value comes in many flavors and goes far beyond just lowering operational costs.
This book is the result of a very interesting journey that Stef has initiated with his startup company 12Return some six years ago. We feel fortunate to have played a modest part in that venture, while jointly uncovering some of the secrets of good product return management. We commend Stef on this very important book, which we recommend to academics and practitioners alike. Let's continue the journey.
Erwin van der Laan
27 March, 2016