I used to run a business that buys and sells pre-owned mobile devices. It was a great model — we could buy phones and other less-than-ideal devices inexpensively and, with a little bit of effort and elbow fat, sell them for a little more.
People generally appreciated the value attached to the hardware used, although the transparency in history and the functional state of some hardware often left a lot to be desired. In those early days, people were mostly content to take their chances on Craigslist, eBay, and retail stores, hoping their product would work as advertised, and not have much recourse if it didn’t.
What the industry needed was a revolution, a movement that likely reflected acceptance and the established legality of used car buying.
A combination of factors fuels the growth of the refurbished electronics industry: stagnant, value-driven consumers, annoyance with OEMs’ unrelenting adherence to planned obsolescence, marginal improvements from model to model each year, the right-to-repair movement and rising environmental sustainability issues with increasing awareness the e-waste crisis.
In fact, market forecasters predict that the used mobile device market will outpace the growth of the new model segment in 2023.
But until now, shopping for used appliances has been a bit of a Wild West caution, leaving shoppers suspicious of inconsistent product quality, unknown device history, and a general lack of transparency and accountability from sellers. For the sector to grow successfully, we need better standards.
As the sector matures, signs of a more structured ecosystem are emerging in the buyer and seller experience, paralleling a similar development we’ve seen in the used car industry, which has been bolstered by the development of comprehensive, independently verified vehicle reports of likes from CarFax. This kind of data provides a sense of authentication and transparency that cars used in your friendly neighborhood simply can’t.
The same level of transparency is now available in the refurbished device space, thanks to powerful diagnostic tools and procedures that guide and certify the refurbishment process in order to deliver reliable, high-quality refurbished devices.
Certificate and detailed presentation Device history from a trusted diagnostic and erasing provider dramatically improves buyer confidence when purchasing refurbished devices, which is good for consumers’ wallets and more sustainable for the planet. Objective and standardized rating processes and protocols for the devices used are also a step forward, and markets in the consumer electronics sector now know this.
Certification from Phonecheck includes an 80-point check, certified erase, and clear, consumer-friendly results via device history reports. These reports include financial status, carrier status, blacklist, lock and touch detection, audio health, battery, repair history, and more.
Most reputable vendors perform diagnostics and wipe data. Accreditation takes this a step further and gives the seller an extra layer of credibility. This allows buyers and sellers to be on the same page in terms of quality and functionality.
Technical knowledge will vary whether you are selling to an end user, refurbished or other enterprise processor. Certification invites both parties to common ground with first-hand reports so that no matter what you’re looking for in a device, you can be sure that one of them will provide it for you.
This reduces customer complaints, merchandise returns and, ultimately, overhead. Certified listings often sell for higher resale values, up to 5-10%, the main value being the higher conversion rate due to the increase in trustworthy hardware.
Device certification is an important part of the diagnostic and evaluation process. For example, Phonecheck partners can use easy-to-use software with comprehensive training, 24-hour support, and little or no capital investment.
Multiple devices can run simultaneously to complete diagnostics, scans, and secure wipes, in compliance with the highest industry standards, such as ADISA, R2, ISO, and more. A label is generated and matched to an International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) to deliver the report to buyers via print, link or QR code.
Obviously, quality is improving between vendors and across markets, but the reality is that most groups have their own set of standards. Certifying devices through a consistent set of standards and criteria can ensure that we compare apples to apples when communicating with enterprise buyers and end users.
No one will argue that giving appliances a long life and keeping them out of landfills makes sense, both economically and environmentally. But to really start the circular revolution, we all need to work on instilling more buyer trust and confidence. It’s a movement that will benefit everyone in the chain—OEMs, refurbishing, resellers, and online marketplaces—and especially our planet.
Chris Sabti is the CEO of Phonecheck, a Los Angeles-based mobile device certification company that uses advanced software to evaluate and pull device history data for a device—essentially Carfax for refurbished electronics.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not imply endorsement by Resource Recycling, Inc. If you have a topic you would like covered in an opinion piece, please submit a short suggestion to [email protected] to look in it.