Understanding the long-term implications of retailer returns in business-to-business relationships

Lauren Skinner Beitelspacher, Thomas L. Baker, Adam Rapp, Dhruv Grewal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (SciVal)


Providing end consumers with the ability to return products is an important part of a retailer’s service offering. While research in reverse logistics has explored the movement of returned merchandise upstream, little research examines the relational implications of returned merchandise in the business-to-business (B2B) context. This research explores the relational implications, as well as the impact on the supplier salesperson’s behaviors, of retailer returns. Using a comprehensive dataset which includes longitudinal archival returns data, as well as two waves of retailer surveys reporting on salesperson behaviors, our research investigates how retail returns impact salesperson responses in the following time period, retailer perceptions of the relationship in the following time period, and returns in the following time period. Consistent with a reciprocal exchange perspective, results suggest that when salespeople respond to returns by engaging in relationship building behaviors, these behaviors are noted by the retailer, which in turn results in fewer returns in a future time period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-272
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • B2B relationships
  • Learning and performance orientations
  • Relationship marketing
  • Retail
  • Returns
  • Sales
  • Social exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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