Original Research

A framework for closed-loop supply chain adoption by small, medium and micro enterprise fashion retailers in South Africa

Chenai Muhwati, Roger H. Salisbury
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 14, No 1 | a463 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v14i1.463 | © 2022 Chenai Muhwati, Roger H. Salisbury | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 August 2021 | Published: 17 August 2022

About the author(s)

Chenai Muhwati, Discipline of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, School of Management, IT and Governance, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Roger H. Salisbury, Discipline of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, School of Management, IT and Governance, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: The implementation of closed-loop supply chain strategies is increasing as the focus grows on the sustainability challenges of the fashion industry. However, their implementation is more widely adopted and researched from the perspectives of larger retailers in developed economies outside of Africa, limiting the widespread applicability of their findings to stakeholders in developing countries such as South Africa.

Aim: The study explored and proposed a decision support framework for the potential coordination of closed-loop supply chain strategies by small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) fashion retailers in South Africa.

Setting: This research study was conducted in South Africa with stakeholders in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Limpopo provinces.

Methods: This descriptive, qualitative research approach used purposive sampling, in the form of judgment sampling, to select 14 participants. The interviews were then transcribed and transferred to Nvivo™ software to identify and analyse themes within the data.

Results: The findings revealed that while some SMMEs would consider or were already considering adopting closed-loop strategies, various challenges and limitations existed related to the sizes of their businesses, their restricted relationships with supply chain stakeholders and their operation in an African developing country. A decision support framework was established, which considers this context and could aid in the implementation of circular strategies by such retailers.

Conclusion: Despite resource limitations, opportunities exist for SMME retailers to adopt closed-loop supply chains and become globally competitive, following international focus on accountability and sustainable consumption. The decision support framework is suitable for such stakeholders to facilitate collaborative efforts towards achieving end-to-end sustainability.


Keywords

closed-loop supply chain management; sustainability; SMMEs; developing economies; fashion

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