The secondary market for consumer electronics consists of refurbishers, repair technicians, and manufacturers all networking with each other for the common goal of extending the life of electronic devices. When the life of a consumer electronic is extended, it does a few things: 1. Keeps waste out of landfills; 2. Provides perfectly good, used devices for consumers looking for a good deal but can’t afford or don’t need the latest and greatest; and 3. Supports the circular economy. This article looks at how professional repair and refurb experts, along with manufacturers, can gain from selling product through a B2B online auction platform.
Side note: the term repair is usually in regards to cell phones and tablets. For these smaller devices, the work is more complex. For example, phones and tablets could have screws that need to be replaced, or parts are glued into them and need to be removed and fixed; basically, when the hardware needs to be fixed, it’s considered repair work. The term refurbish is more about computers and laptops that usually require work with the OS. Computers and laptops are easy to take apart, and the parts can be interchangeable, which isn’t considered difficult work, so the real expertise is installing the software onto the system.
Established refurbishers, and those ramping up a new business, need to source product, that is, they need to find inventory that they can repair or refurbish and then sell to a consumer. Traditionally, and still true to this day, networking at conferences is essential to source product. For example, B-Stock has been a sponsor of the Electronics Reuse Conference for many years now; this is where a lot of business happens face-to-face. During these conferences, manufacturers and refurbishers will walk around with Excel sheets to show other refurbishers and repair techs what product they have available. As a whole, the industry is not yet fully automated and many players still work off spreadsheets to collect bids for their inventory. However, there are now platforms and sales channels available to help automate this process as described later in this article.
Usually, refurbishers tend to buy in bulk. For instance, if a refurbisher has an opportunity to purchase 10 or even 100 broken laptops, they will buy those, fix them, and then sell them individually to customers in their stores. In many cases, refurbishers operate out of brick-and-mortar stores where they also offer repair services such as replacing broken screens.
Refurbishers do like to buy bulk lots—a group of inventory that is available for sale—from each other where the product still needs some sort of repair or refurbish work. For example, if a refurbisher has an opportunity to buy 100 tablets with broken screens, but they don’t do screen repair, but they know someone who does, then they will buy a lot of tablets, turn around and sell them to the refurbisher that does screen work, and they in turn fix the screens and then finally resell the repaired tablet to an end-user—a person or persons who will actually use the equipment.
For some refurbishers, selling in bulk to other refurbishers is the only type of selling they do. Selling product B2B as opposed to end-users means they don’t need dedicated customer service, or return policies, so they can focus on the business and not consumers. Refurbishers buying and selling to each other is so prevalent within the industry that often times refurbishers will act as bulk wholesale brokers of equipment to other refurbishers they might normally compete with; and in that way, the consumer electronics secondary market consists of a healthy network of professionals working to benefit each other with products and services that ultimately serve the needs of the consumer, the environment, and the economy.
In a perfect world, refurbishers and manufacturers would have full access to available secondary market product and the type of repair work needed. This would help reduce the need for expensive travel and in-person networking at conferences and events where professionals compare antiquated spreadsheets. For larger manufacturers and established retailers that have a continual amount of overstocked inventory that needs repair or refurbishment, selling inventory in bulk through an online auction platform to a network of vetted resellers is the best option to increase velocity and to sell at the highest market value.
When selling consumer electronics through B-Stock, companies gain an online, private marketplace where they can sell in bulk to repair and refurb experts that are constantly sourcing new inventory for their stores so they can better serve their customers. Read more on how B-Stock works.
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