Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Moore School of Business

First Advisor

Olga Perdikaki

Second Advisor

Mark Ferguson

Abstract

Consumer returns and environmental sustainability greatly impact the operational decisions that firms make. Focusing on consumer returns, lenient return policies aid consumers with resolving uncertainty but impose additional reverse logistics costs on retailers. The current retail landscape has largely eliminated the possibility of offering more stringent return policies since consumers have come to expect such policies as a given. This has driven retailers to look for innovative solutions while still offering costly free return policies. With respect to environmental sustainability, a number of operational decisions have been examined in the academic literature. These have ranged all the way from examining closed loop supply chains to understanding the impact of operational decisions in varied contexts such as food waste and energy markets.

While returns and sustainability have been jointly examined in the context of closed loop supply chains, in this dissertation, we look at how they independently manifest in unique ways in the apparel industry as well as in the context of crowd-funding. Specifically, in Chapter 2, we examine whether an online apparel retailer can maximize profits by encouraging the seemingly deleterious consumer practice of bracketing. In Chapter 3, we compare two commonly used supply chain approaches to apparel retail (fast fashion and the traditional approach) in terms of environmental impact. We shift gears in Chapter 4, where we empirically examine whether business ventures with a sustainability orientation achieve higher success than those without such an orientation in a crowdfunding setting.

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