Excited woman on her laptop

Swap shops are the new upgrades

It's getting harder to say goodbye to our work devices, notes Billy MacInnes
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Image: Rodnae Productions via Pexels

21 July 2022

In recent years, many of us have become accustomed to the notion of trading in our older phones for newer models. It’s a good thing, of that there’s no doubt. You only have to look in the drawers of most households to find an old phone or two knocking about to appreciate how the trend of trading up has helped to reduce the potential amount of electronic waste in our houses substantially.

For the most part, we either trade the phones back to the suppliers or we sell them/trade them in with specialist shops that have established a channel for refurbished devices. The growing maturity of the smartphone market means we’re inclined to hang on to our devices for longer before we replace them. In a number of cases, people might swap them for a more recent model but not necessarily the latest one.

From the phone manufacturer’s point of view, it makes sense to help establish a viable second user/refurbished market for their devices, especially if this can be used as a mechanism for encouraging people to trade up for newer models.

 

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In the main, this has been confined to manufacturers, operators and specialist refurbished sellers, but retailers are starting to become very interested in it too. In a recent conversation with David Nelson, sales director for EMEA Trade In Services at Tech Data, he revealed there had been “a step change” in the attitude of retailers to trade ins and that they were “catching up” with operators by investing heavily in trade in services.

What I found most interesting was his perspective on resellers, a group that Nelson described as “the slowest group to catch up”. He argued this was because the B2B market was a lot less used to “the motion” of trade in devices, pointing out that the sales cycle was very different than for home or personal users. As consumers, we fell comfortable about going into a shop, swapping a phone on a one-for-one basis and walking out with a new device.

The reality for people at work is that they aren’t able to give up their old phone until they can get a new one but they are also inclined to hold onto their old model for longer after receiving a replacement – and possibly may not give it back at all. “The sales cycle is very different,” Nelson said. Pricing can also be volatile and if a user holds on to the old phone for too long it can have an effect on the trade in scheme.

“It’s dependent on getting the phone back,” he stated. If the user holds on to the device, the price may have moved and the trade in provider may have to re-quote the price for the device. And getting the price right “is one of the toughest parts of trade in”, Nelson warned.

Given the potential loss of revenue and the work involved in ensuring that employees return their old phones promptly, some businesses might think it’s not worth the time.

So is there an easy way to solve the delay between supplying a new phone and the handover of the old device? “I don’t think so,” Nelson acknowledged.

The hope is that consumer behaviour will ultimately drive a change in attitude and nudge people to trade in their devices quickly. It sounds sensible, let’s hope it works.

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