Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 252–272 | Cite as

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

  • Lauren Skinner Beitelspacher
  • Thomas L. Baker
  • Adam Rapp
  • Dhruv Grewal
Original Empirical Research


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.


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


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren Skinner Beitelspacher
    • 1
  • Thomas L. Baker
    • 2
  • Adam Rapp
    • 3
  • Dhruv Grewal
    • 1
  1. 1.Malloy HallBabson CollegeBabson ParkUSA
  2. 2.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  3. 3.Ohio UniversityAthensUSA

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