Case Study of the Week: Rethinking Free Shipping

Apr 15, 2024


You are to assume the role of the owner of Quilts & Linens, a small business that sells custom made quilts and other bedroom linens. Your business partner needs you to create a new shipping and returns policy that will help with skyrocketing overhead and operating costs.

Quilts & Linens allows customers to create their own quilts by choosing the colors and patterns. The business also sells a wide variety of blankets, bed sheets and comforters. The company has always had a no-returns policy on custom made quilts due to the customization of the products; however, Quilts & Linens offers free shipping on all items and free returns on all other items.    

Due to a shortage of cotton, one of the raw materials used in making products, Quilts & Linens had to limit the number of custom orders accepted. The company instead promoted its other items. Now that the supply chain has opened, Quilts & Linens has an abundance of materials. The free returns policy has also resulted in the company having an abundance of excess merchandise. Your business partner had to rent warehouse space to house excess merchandise and materials.

Returns account for $816 billion in lost sales across the US marketplace. Quilts & Linens has suffered with returns due to the costs associated with shipping heavy blankets and bedding and then paying for the return shipping as well.

Your business partner wants you to create a new shipping and returns policy for Quilts & Linens that will still provide positive customer service but not cost the company as much in shipping fees. Your business partner also wants you to explain how the company can best manage supply chain issues in the future.


Randi Bibiano
Competitive Events Specialist

Randi Bibiano is DECA's competitive events specialist. In this role, she conceptualizes and authors role-play scenarios for the collegiate and high school division’s competitive events programs. She also manages DECA's online competitive events and serves as a liaison to volunteer efforts at DECA's educational conferences.

Discussion Questions

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Classroom Connection

Career CLuster:


Instructional Area(s):


Performance Indicators:

Explain the nature of overhead/operating costs
Explain factors affecting pricing decisions
Discuss the nature of supply chain management
Explain the impact of supply chain on business performance