“Return Policies in Distribution Channels” by Dr. Yunchuan Liu
Dr. Yunchuan Liu
Associate Professor of Business Administration
College of Business
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Many retailers and manufacturers adopt the practice of accepting product returns from consumers (via money-back guarantee) and retailers (via full-credit returns policy) respectively. While the extant literature focuses on either the manufacturer’s or retailer’s returns policy, this paper investigates both returns policies and finds that the manufacturer’s returns policy can actually induce the retailer’s returns policy by increasing the retailer’s salvage value for consumer returns. However, counter to the intuition that an increasing salvage value is always beneficial for retailers, the manufacturer’s returns policy is not necessarily beneficial for competing retailers. Nonetheless, the manufacturer’s returns policy can benefit the manufacturer even when competing retailers face a certain demand before sales, which is in sharp contrast to the extant literature. We also show that a high quality retailer can be more likely to accept returns than a low quality retailer.