BACKGROUND : The increasing complexity and levels of competition facing firms have reiterated
the need to integrate the flow of goods and information within and between firms. Limited
research has, however, been done regarding this integration in terms of reverse logistics.
PURPOSE : The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perspectives of retailers
regarding supply chain integration in the context of product returns for consumer electronics.
METHOD : A generic qualitative research strategy was used for this purpose. Ten semi-structured
interviews were conducted with managerial staff involved with the product returns process at
FINDINGS : The main findings indicate that the retailers made efforts to increase internal
integration relating to improving information availability, aligning cross functional processes
and improving inter-firm relationships. External integration efforts attempted to improve the
intra-firm flow of information, reduce the number products returned to suppliers, expedite the
returns process in specific instances and align processes. A narrow supplier-orientated span of
integration was identified in this context, with integration efforts mainly targeting the start of
the returns process to reduce return volumes. The study identified benefits attributed to both
internal and external integration and barriers to internal and external integration relating to
transactional relationships and suppliers who are incapable of integration.
CONTRIBUTION : Academically, this study expands the literature on supply chain integration in
an unexplored context. For managers, this study identifies various reverse logistics integration
barriers and details what practices and strategies improve the probability of successful