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Product returns: an opportunity to shift towards an access-based economy?

Product returns: an opportunity to shift towards an access-based economy?
Product returns: an opportunity to shift towards an access-based economy?
With the rise in online purchases, returns polices have become more lenient to maximise sales, leading to increased product returns. This results in considerable costs to businesses due to com-plex returns systems, and environmental costs due to unnecessary transportation and waste. Unsustainable consumption poses a threat to our environment, and access-based business mod-els whereby products are borrowed/rented rather than purchased, have been proposed as a way to align customer needs, business success and sustainability. Product returns often constitute a form of informal or illegitimate borrowing as goods are bought with the intention of being re-turned. In this discussion paper we propose that, instead of being viewed as a threat to business, issues with high product returns could be seen as an opportunity to switch to an access-based model. As product returns escalate, businesses will need to invest substantially in their reverse supply chains. We propose that a more strategic approach might be to leapfrog the costly stage of develop-ing more efficient returns systems, and move straight to formalising product returns as the new normal for those goods that would best suit an access-based model, so that processes are streamlined around bor-rowing and returning rather than around sales.
Access-based economy, Circular economy, Product returns, Reverse logistics, Sharing economy, Sustainable consumption
2071-1050
Baden, Denise
daad83b9-c537-4d3c-bab6-548b841f23b5
Frei, Regina
fa00170f-356a-4a0d-8030-d137fd855880
Baden, Denise
daad83b9-c537-4d3c-bab6-548b841f23b5
Frei, Regina
fa00170f-356a-4a0d-8030-d137fd855880

Baden, Denise and Frei, Regina (2021) Product returns: an opportunity to shift towards an access-based economy? Sustainability, 14 (1), [410]. (doi:10.3390/su14010410).

Record type: Article

Abstract

With the rise in online purchases, returns polices have become more lenient to maximise sales, leading to increased product returns. This results in considerable costs to businesses due to com-plex returns systems, and environmental costs due to unnecessary transportation and waste. Unsustainable consumption poses a threat to our environment, and access-based business mod-els whereby products are borrowed/rented rather than purchased, have been proposed as a way to align customer needs, business success and sustainability. Product returns often constitute a form of informal or illegitimate borrowing as goods are bought with the intention of being re-turned. In this discussion paper we propose that, instead of being viewed as a threat to business, issues with high product returns could be seen as an opportunity to switch to an access-based model. As product returns escalate, businesses will need to invest substantially in their reverse supply chains. We propose that a more strategic approach might be to leapfrog the costly stage of develop-ing more efficient returns systems, and move straight to formalising product returns as the new normal for those goods that would best suit an access-based model, so that processes are streamlined around bor-rowing and returning rather than around sales.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 22 December 2021
Published date: 31 December 2021
Keywords: Access-based economy, Circular economy, Product returns, Reverse logistics, Sharing economy, Sustainable consumption

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 453303
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/453303
ISSN: 2071-1050
PURE UUID: 5ded46e7-eb2b-4051-a71b-644b3ad827f3
ORCID for Denise Baden: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2736-4483
ORCID for Regina Frei: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-0953-6413

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 12 Jan 2022 17:37
Last modified: 13 Jan 2022 02:55

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