How the refurb renaissance can benefit retailers

Within an industry such as this one, there has always been a strong focus on new and emerging technology. Whether the end user is a consumer or a business, most people have some sort of idea of what they want, and these ideas usually come from new industry announcements, consumer advertising, and product showcases at big tech shows, such as CES.

While new tech is a very fun and exciting part of the industry – with the dedication to innovation being a key factor in driving almost every aspect of our lives forward – it’s also worth shining a light on the fantastic opportunities that the refurbished market can bring.

In mid 2019, distributor Exertis announced the availability of fully-supported refurbished phones aimed at business users, complete with its 24/24 support service, which offers a 24-hour advance handset replacement service on any In-Warranty claims along with a 24-month warranty for the handset.

“We are offering a very high quality, refurbished handset with a high level of service but at a compelling price point. There is a growing market for premium refurbished handsets which provide a superior finish and an alternative to inconsistently graded devices,” commented Stephen Smith, head of sales for 2nd Lifecycle.

“In addition, our solution supports a more environmentally friendly approach to the mobile phone market where devices are being re-used rather than disposed of, as well as peace of mind for the customer and an ‘as new’, out of the box, flagship phone for mid-range money.”

And it’s not just businesses that the refurb market is aiming itself at. At the end of 2019, online marketplace OnBuy.com introduced a new dedicated department for refurbished electronics, following a significant increase in demand.

OnBuy says that this move comes as consumers are “increasingly realising the advantages of buying refurbished products with both sustainability and cost being key drivers”.

OnBuy’s Refurbished Electronics department is supported by an integrated marketing campaign to ensure large consumer reach alongside a substantial retailer drive to onboard additional refurbished products, which are in full working order with a warranty and span everything from refurbished headphones, laptops and TVs, to refurbished household appliances such as vacuum cleaners and toasters, as well as toys including drones and scooters.

“We recognised that our sellers have hidden gems and will be offering refurbished products from top brands for incredible prices” Cas Paton, OnBuy

All sellers have been carefully handpicked and vetted by OnBuy, and five refurbished grades are available.

“This additional focus on refurbished products is part of our ongoing evolution and underpins our commitment to creating a fairer, more transparent marketplace that puts its buyers and sellers first,” commented Cas Paton, founder of OnBuy. “We recognised that our sellers have hidden gems and will be offering refurbished products from top brands for incredible prices. This will benefit both our sellers and buyers and further fuel the exponential growth which has seen us become one of the fastest-growing marketplaces in the world.”

So, do the market stats match up with the growth that Exertis and OnBuy are seeing in the refurbished market? Well, if we delve a little deeper into mobile phone refurbishments, a new report from Quick Mobile Fix reveals that the refurbished phone market has seen growth at an “exponential rate” over the past two years. But is this just due to bargain hunters jumping on the bandwagon? Or is there a deeper reason for this rapidly increasing market? The company says the answer may surprise you.

An attractive package

“The reality is, there are multiple factors that contribute towards this sudden jump. There is no one reason as to why more and more consumers are turning towards buying a refurbished device rather than splashing out on the latest smartphone flagship,” says Quick Mobile Fix.

Using Apple as an example, the company demonstrated how price points play a big factor.

“On November 3rd 2017, Apple announced the release of the iPhone X. For the first time, a smartphone had the hefty price- tag of nearly £1,000, which at the time had been widely considered entirely ludicrous and unnecessary for a device that is purely for convenience,” says Quick Mobile Fix.

“But that’s just it – mobile phones have become such an integral part of our day to day lives that a phone has become so much more than a digital contact book and the ability to play snake when you’ve got a spare few minutes. They are multimedia monsters enabling users to become a writer, pocket photographer, music artists or just to be entertained at the flick of a finger.

“So it’s no wonder that this attractive package is desirable, but not at that price. This is where refurbished mobile phones play a huge role – enabling a customer to be able to have all of those fancy features, at a price that suits them. As of late, there has been high demand in the refurbished phone market for Apple’s previous model, the iPhone XR, and understandably so.”

According to Quick Mobile Fix, a ‘new’ iPhone XR will still set you back £629 from Apple. Whereas a refurbished iPhone XR in ‘excellent’ condition will only cost you £507.99 – “£120 more to save and use at your local coffee chain,” as the company puts it. Their findings also suggest that one of the most popular refurbished phones is Apple’s iPhone 7, which was released in 2016.

“We’re seeing customers becoming more environmentally aware. They genuinely don’t want to keep harming the environment with waste from phones” Chinedu Emechebe, Quick Mobile Fix

This raises a couple of interesting points – the first being that it’s very clear that the iPhone 7, even nearly four years later, is still an incredibly popular choice among would-be shoppers. In fact, Quick Mobile Fix reports that on average, they have over 1,000 orders a month for their refurbished iPhone 7 models.

Looking past the next most obvious reason, being the price of the Apple devices, which can largely be outside of the price- range consumers are looking for – there are far more iPhone’s available in the refurbished market due to their popularity with consumers over the past few years. Interestingly, however, this statistic is slowly changing with more users switching over to Android with brands such as Samsung, Huawei, Honor and countless more bringing some serious competition to the market.

Quick Mobile Fix director, Chinedu Emechebe, comments: “Bigger brands are looking to enter the used market. Five or six years ago, we didn’t see many manufacturers getting into the refurbished phone market at all, but that has changed recently. We’re also seeing customers becoming more environmentally aware. They genuinely don’t want to keep harming the environment with waste from phones – but ultimately, it’s the customers pocket which is the deciding factor right now.

“People are seeing that these latest smartphones are getting very expensive – and because they’re expensive, when the time comes to renew their contract, those contracts have gone up from around £40 per month to prices as high as £80 – that’s a huge jump,” says Emechebe.

“So what a lot of people are doing now, they’re holding onto their existing device and opting to repair them if they’re faulty. But at the same time, if the customer does want a new phone, they’re choosing refurbished phones rather than buying a brand new one. ”

With consumers keen to hang on to phones for longer, retailers that offer repairs will have a great opportunity to boost business. As we all know, being away from your mobile phone for any length of time can be a struggle, and sending phones off to be repaired will always make people feel anxious, so high street tech repairers have the upper hand here, especially if they are able to offer comfortable places for customers to wait, or attractive time slots for those on their lunch breaks.

If you’re not already in the refurb market, whether that’s selling to consumers or businesses, maybe 2020 is the year to get involved.

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