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A new lease of life

Many businesses are turning to the second life IT equipment market to maintain and upgrade their existing IT infrastructure for up to ten years, just as many consumers are freely buying secondhand and refurbished tech as a way of cost effectively owning the latest and more up to date devices. Michelle Winny PCR’s editor speaks to the channel to find out more

As thinking towards refurbished tech becomes more widely accepted with a clearer understanding between the differences of professionally refurbished tech and second hand offerings, the second life tech market is one to keep an eye on as the cost saving benefits and good green credentials offer up a lucrative pool of revenue for resellers, so long as and the all-important refurbishers product guarantees are firmly in place.

Most recently there has been a spike in the second life market caused by homeworking following the Coronavirus lockdown this year, this also alleviated the impact COVID-19 had on the supply chain which created a temporary lack of availability of new tech stock with some electronics manufacturers struggling to produce new equipment.

James Goddard, sales and commercial director at MTR, specialists in second lifecycle solutions for mobile, tablet and wearable devices says: “While the economy has understandably had to adapt to the shifting landscape throughout COVID-19, as always, the mobile industry has moved quickly to help mobilise the UK into working from home, making communication with family easier and helping keep people connected. As such, we have found a spike in online sales through our D2C site www.4gadgets.co.uk. As many companies transitioned to remote working, we’ve seen a surge in demand for tablets and laptops as well.”

Nick Waite managing director, Resource Development (UK) Limited, (RD-UK) Ltd. a specialist in the renewal of IT products experienced something similar: “Laptop sales (for obvious reasons) have remained firm throughout the pandemic so far, with supply being more challenging than generating sales!”

The second life tech market offers quick and easy access to additional IT equipment for home workers and is readily available for much less if businesses are prepared to do their homework and purchase professionally refurbished tech from secondary-market resellers.

Multimillion-pound offering
Both the cost saving benefits not to mention the reduction in carbon footprint are making this into a multimillion-pound market the world over. International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts just the worldwide smartphones used market alone will be 236 million units in 2020 with a value of around $44 billion. This includes refurbished smartphones, pre-owned smartphones, remanufactured smartphones, and certified pre-owned smartphones.

With the increasing number of devices we all use and own a much-needed shift in attitude towards recycling and reusing is essential and one which consumers are starting to trend towards, as James Goddard, sales and commercial director at 2nd lifecycle specialist, MTR explains: “In recent years, we’ve witnessed a much-needed shift towards sustainability within the market. Consumers who are concerned about environmental damage and are unwilling to spend big money on newer handsets are opting for refurbished technology.”

RD-UK has a strong focus on sustainability as Waite points out: “A new laptop generates around 350kg of CO2 in its production/shipment whereas a renewed unit generates around 50 – 60kg. This is perhaps the biggest single reason to choose renewed and will become the focus of our marketing over the next 12 months.”

“Over the course of the next year RD-UK will be appointing a network of resellers to promote its “green alternative IT” products – once up & running, greenalternativeit.co.uk will become the place to find an authorised reseller,” Waite advises.

Whilst buying used tech might not be for everyone as worries about pre life history and condition or mistreatment, along with battery life might throw up cause for concern, buying refurbished tech from a reputable vendor that can offer professionally refurbished product guarantees on a device that has undergone rigorous testing to restore it so that is as ‘good as new’ is a valuable resource within a growing marketplace. Nick Waite speaks of RD-UK’s evolution: “Initially we specialised in traditional component distribution, sourcing from the UK & China but over the last seven years the business has progressed into refurbishing laptops & desktops, gradually developing processes to allow for a high-quality “renewed” product offering, to the point where we now offer a range of “renewed” products which bear little resemblance to products offered by other refurbishers.”

Is refurbished or used tech best? For Waite the answer is simple: “The renewed product we offer is vastly superior to either refurbished or used. The laptops we sell undergo a complete exterior renovation using a vinyl wrap process generated on hi tech vinyl cutters. In addition every keyboard is re-printed to restore it to ‘as new’ condition. Every machine undergoes a comprehensive test process, having a new install of Microsoft Windows 10 Professional, before being inspected and placed in a new box”, he says.

UK-based video game retailer GAME told PCR it “commits to the quality of its pre-owned phones and tablets with a thorough 15-point check, using the latest industry approved software to ensure the integrity of the product. Area’s such as battery life, HP check, grading for screen and case quality are covered to ensure the device is up to standard to be sold on to the end user.”

Used and refurbished tech know the difference
Before parting with any money be careful to understand the difference between used and refurbished tech as the condition could be greatly impacted as Waite explains: “A used device will show varying amounts of wear & tear, may not have been thoroughly tested & will generally be supplied with either little or no warranty. A refurbished product will generally have undergone at least a degree of cosmetic improvement & will have been tested. It may also come supplied with either no operating system, a re install using it’s original Windows licence, or a refurbished licence applied. An RD-UK “renewed” product will have gone through our comprehensive refurbishment program.”

“Although used technology may seem cheaper than refurbished tech on the face of it, used devices may come without warranty and may be subject to varying cosmetic conditions”, adds Waite.

MTR has a similar approach, “When using an audited, accredited business such as MTR to purchase preloved tech, you can rest comfortably in the knowledge that you’re buying quality products. We follow strict diligence protocols that ensure and provide data security, new part authenticity (where appropriate) and all applicable warranties”, explains MTR’s James Goddard.

Aznu, a new premium refurbishment brand sold through retail outlet, Argos offers products in a condition that looks brand new and that have been through a rigorous process ensuring the internals contain manufactures original parts and work to a standard you would associate with a new product (excluding battery, battery at 85% of original life or higher).

Stephen Smith, business development manager at Aznu offers this advice: “Buying refurbished has lots of benefits to purchasing against new, look at the warranty and service you require to include returns and DOA, what you need in the box and then make a balanced decision. Not all Refurbished are the same, the level of refurbishment varies, and you need to ask some questions; 1. Is this UK warrantied and if so how long? 2. What is the minimum battery life? 3. Does the device have all original parts? 4. Is the product fully UK compliant?”

Waite agrees adding: “when considering purchasing used or refurbished tech there are several factors that the end user should consider like visual cosmetic condition, as well as ongoing reliability & warranty versus spend. In addition buyers should compare the level of original build quality on the used/refurbished product – the vast majority of products we renew are “enterprise” products, meaning that they were built to a far higher standard than the equivalent “consumer” model & therefore have a far longer usable lifespan.

“Buying from reputable vendors is a wise choice”, says Waite “as every product we sell comes with a minimum 12 months warranty, which can be extended to three years for a small additional cost. Faulty items are collected and repaired/replaced at the company’s expense.”

GAME offers similar advice in as much as it says end users should make sure to “go to a reputable company who offers a solid guarantee.” Advising to “always look out for tell tale signs of mishandling that may give you issues further down the line. As there’s no telling what a minor screen crack or scrape on a case could signify in the devices later life.”

GAME advises that wherever the end user decides to buy their phone or tablet, they need to make sure to go to a reputable company who offers a guarantee that gives them peace of mind in their purchase.

This is all good firm advice and it is clear a balance between cost and quality is essential as James Goddard rounds off: “As the cost of devices continues to rise, inevitably people are looking to find value for money. Refurbished and used devices allow both businesses and the consumer to get the latest tech at more affordable prices.”

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