Reverse logistics and information management issues in manufacturing and e-business industries

Dissanayake, K 2007, Reverse logistics and information management issues in manufacturing and e-business industries, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Business Information Technology, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Reverse logistics and information management issues in manufacturing and e-business industries
Author(s) Dissanayake, K
Year 2007
Abstract Reverse logistics is different from forward logistics in objectives, operations, pricing, quality, quantity, packaging, product and information flow. Further, management of the returned products and their information is a major challenge since it is difficult to predict the time, place of origin, quantity and quality of the goods that will be returned. To establish the importance of reverse logistics as a business process and to understand related issues for information management, this research was undertaken with data from the Australian Manufacturing and E-Business organisations.

This research examined six dimensions of reverse logistics. These were: (1) Factors that compel Manufacturing and E-Business organisations to manage reverse logistics; (2) Operations in product return process; (3) Methods of capturing value from returned goods; (4) Barriers to reverse logistics management; (5) Information management issues in reverse logistics; and (6) Product return trends in the E-Business industry.

This research was exploratory in nature and was accomplished via a quantitative research method. It adopted a positivist epistemology and followed a deductive approach to capture reverse logistics knowledge. Research data from Manufacturing and E-Business industries was elicited with postal questionnaire surveys using structured questions.

Since the data collected from the two main surveys was mainly nominal and ordinal, it was quantitatively analysed using non-parametric tests, Fisher's exact test and one sample Wilcoxon test. It also employed frequency distributions, binomial test and one sample t-test. An additional statistical test was carried out on each set of data to triangulate the finding. The tests were undertaken in Minitab spreadsheet computer packages.

This research highlights the fact that reverse logistics management is an important business process in the Australian Manufacturing and E-Business industries. It is a strategic advantage, as well as an important customer service. Although substantial monetary value can be recovered from returned goods, at present two industries investigated have not tapped into this potential.

Findings of this research also indicate that a lack of efficient information management is a problem in reverse logistics. Information management in the two industries is based on land-line telephone, fax and computers.

This research identified that from E-Business sales error in ordering, customer change of mind on receipt of good and inefficient forward logistics operations (picking, packing and delivery) are important reasons for returns. It also established that e-businesses resell the returned goods and recapture value. The value recovery process in this industry is different from the manufacturing industries where the prevalent value recovery processes are repair, resale and recycle.

Further research issues emanating from this project include evaluation methods for recapturing value from returned goods, effective information management strategies for return management and the impact of a law for returning certain types of used goods.

This research is an initial effort undertaken to establish returns management in the Australian industries. It establishes that reverse logistics should be recognised as a business process in these industries.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Business Information Technology
Keyword(s) Business logistics
Customer relations
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