product, and firms must provide a satisfactory returns service experience for customer
satisfaction and retention.
Notably, prior studies typically refer to reverse logistics when they examine product
returns (Stock et al., 2002; Stock and Mulki, 2009). Huscroft, Hazen, Hall, Skipper, and
Hanna (2013) argue that the existing research in reverse logistics does not provide a good
understanding of the key factors in customer needs in a reverse logistics process. Past
research into product returns and reverse logistics may not incorporate marketing concepts
(Bernon et al., 2013; Ferguson et al., 2006), though they emphasise coordination between
marketing and logistics efforts to improve product returns systems.
To manage product returns successfully, this study proposes an integrated interface for
marketing and reverse logistics. Accordingly, the study applies the marketing perspectives
of service-dominant (S-D) logic, customer orientation, customer expectations, service
recovery, and service quality to product returns management to propose a conceptualisation
and performance measure for customer-oriented product returns service (COPRS). Prior
works largely ignore metrics for reverse logistics focusing on customer satisfaction or an
effective returns process (Huscroft, Hazen, Hall, Skipper, and Hanna, 2013).
Unlike other services in traditional forward logistics, product returns service starts from
the point of destination (customers) and ends at the point of origin (suppliers). The key issue
in the product returns process and management is, therefore, the customer. Hence, the
specific performance measure of product returns service should be developed from customer
expectations or co-created by customers to enhance their satisfaction. Accordingly, the
purpose of the current study is to conceptualise COPRS performance, and develop and
validate its measure. Thus, this study addresses the following research question:
RQ1. How can CORPS performance be developed, measured and validated?
To answer the research question, the scope of product returns service in this study focuses
on services offered by a mobile company that receives returns from customers. The mobile
industry was chosen because Thailand’s mobile industry has been one of the fastest
growing industries in recent decades. There were 97.68m mobile subscribers,
accounting for 146 per cent of the total population in Thailand at the end of 2014
(NBTC, 2015). The mobile industry remains robust due to the continuing technology
development of wireless communications, the improvement in mobile devices in terms of
quality and variety, and the government’s digital economy policies to develop broadband
infrastructure across the country (Ninkitsaranont, 2018). The mobile industry is a
dominant industry that faces product returns problems. Firms should focus more on
improving returns service performance to build superior competitive advantage amid
intensified domestic competition.
Literature review and theoretical background
Product returns and reverse logistics
The literature contains several definitions for product returns, but Rogers and
Tibben-Lembke (1998, p. 2) provide the most popular definition (Bernon et al., 2013): “the
process of planning, implementing and controlling the efficient, cost-effective flow of raw
materials, in-process inventory, finished goods and related information from the point of
consumption to the point of origin for the purpose of recapturing or creating value or proper
disposal”. This definition originally described reverse logistics. When scholars study
product returns they often refer to reverse logistics (Stock et al., 2002; Stock and Mulki,
2009). In other words, prior works often use both terms interchangeably. In this study, the
term “product returns”refers to the service operations of returns.
Specifically,this study focuses on the largest category of returns (Rogerset al., 2002) –the
consumer returns that customers initiate. According to Rogers et al. (2002), a return with a