For the past decade smartphone sales have experienced explosive growth. But new reports show that the market for new smartphones dropped 1% from a year ago. Indicators show that the smartphone market has matured and people are holding on to their phones for multiple years as opposed to an annual trade up. Consumers are now skipping iterations of new models, especially when new models consist of only minor upgrades, and are waiting for a new device with significant improvements. The new average for a consumer to hold on to a phone is three years. And even after those three years, phones are generally still in good condition and all features are either useable or at least easily fixable. Consumers are also learning that their three-year-old phones still have value to them and can be either sold back, or in most cases, used as a trade-in for the upgrade.

Warehouses full of used phones

With the growth of trade-in/buyback programs, many carriers, manufacturers, and retailers have huge inventories of returned devices that are still in perfectly good working order. Some might have a busted screen, some might have broken buttons, and some might need a new battery; but for the most part, the phone is still in good condition and can be repaired and resold. This is where the secondary market comes into play. Retailers are using a variety of channels to sell their used phone inventory; this includes B2B channels like online auction marketplaces. These marketplaces connect the retailer to a buyer base that is consistently looking for used, returned, and traded-in mobile phones and consumer electronics. Enter the refurb & repair industry.

Rise of the refurb & repair business

Repair specialists and refurbishers are one of the biggest buyer groups of used and traded-in phones and consumer electronics (such as laptops and desktop computers). The refurb and repair industry got a huge boost recently when the Library of Congress and U.S. Copyright Office proposed new rules that allow refurbishers to legally hack embedded software on devices in order to repair or maintain them. These new rules will enable the industry to repair broken devices to their original intended specifications; and in turn make the device more valuable for resale.

Usually, refurbishers like to buy in bulk. If a refurbisher has an opportunity to purchase 10 or say, 100 iPhone 6s, he will buy them, fix them, and then sell them individually to end-users in his store(s). Many repair and refurb business owners have a retail store; in the store, they also provide repair services to consumers like fixing broken screens or replacing batteries. So, they are constantly looking for sources of parts to make repairs. It’s not uncommon for repair specialists to buy lots of salvage devices simply to harvest the parts.  

Side note: when buying and selling secondary market phones and consumer electronics, you need to be aware of R2 requirements and certification. R2 Requirement #6 outlines criteria and specific naming of how and what needs to be done by recyclers and refurbishers when operating through the secondary market.

Connecting Retailers to Repair and Refurb Experts

The secondary market for mobile phones continues to explode while new markets in China, Brazil, and India emerge alongside the growth of trade-in programs. There is now a need for retailers, manufacturers, and carriers to directly connect to repair and refurb experts for the sale and purchase of secondary market phones. This is where B-Stock comes in to play. B-Stock provides an online B2B auction platform where wireless networks, manufacturers, and retailers can sell their inventories of used phones at market value as determined through a network of buyers who are consistently looking for sources of inventory.

We invite you to learn more about B-Stock’s secondary mobile market insights, our mobile marketplaces, and to meet the mobile team.

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