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EMAC 2021 Annual Conference

How Does the Covid-19 Pandemic Affect Consumer Returns: An Exploratory Study

Published: May 25, 2021


David Karl, University of Bamberg; Björn Asdecker, University of Bamberg


In recent years, significant sales shifted from stationary retail to e-commerce. This trend is further accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has placed major constraints on brick-and-mortar retailers. Yet, there is still one critical aspect that threatens the success of the business model: consumer returns. Against this background, this paper conducts a systematic literature review to provide an overview about the extent of consumer returns. However, the published return rates vary widely and are mostly based on the data of a single e-tailer. Therefore, this study conducts an exploratory survey to capture product category-specific return rates and to explore the influences of Covid-19 on consumer return behavior. Theoretically, this research adds knowledge about the reverse part of the e-commerce business model and the effects of the current pandemic. Managerially, the collected data can be used for benchmarking purposes and can help to improve the e-tailers’ returns management.