How the refurbished smartphone market works

How the refurbished smartphone market works

The refurbished smartphone for many Italians is perhaps still a taboo, at least according to the data of the latest Deloitte study that has sounded the behavior of European consumers (and beyond). It is estimated that in our country only 3% of used smartphones are sold to companies for recycling and only 2% are subject to second sale or exchange. If in the first case in Europe Germany stands out with 11% and the United Kingdom with 16%, in the second case France is close to 6% while Holland 5%. In practice we are far below international averages, but like our European cousins ​​we tend to keep cell phones longer before replacing them.

And the main justification seems really cultural because as they explain to l 'CEO of Ricompro, Fabian Thobe, and the country manager of Certideal, Salvatore Macrì, now also in our country there are mature companies that ensure quality in the offer, guarantees up to two years and competitive prices. We must remember among the many Swappies, Refurbed, Trend device, Back Market and Lombardo Shop. Even Oppo in its store has started to sell refurbished "made perfectly intact" or Live Demo Units.

From 2016 to 2021 people tend to keep their smartphones longer

deloitte "The market he is schizophrenic, but in the end in my opinion within four years maximum the European Commission will approve the right to repair and this will accelerate the growth of the segment, ”says Thobe. Indeed, all market surveys outline a rosy scenario.

For example, an Espresso Communication study carried out for Senso, another refurbished specialist, predicted that by 2031 the global market in the sector (used / refurbished) will be worth 11% of the total (+ 188% ); in practice, $ 144 billion out of a total of $ 983 billion. According to Gianmaria Monteleone, CEO and founder of Younitestars and Senso, the key to success is linked both to the theme of more accessible prices and to the quality of the products, identical to the new one. Not to mention sustainability: Counterpoint Research estimates that electronic waste will increase by 40% between now and 2030 and the recycling rate will not exceed 20%. Smartphones account for 12% of the total calculation.

The Certideal study, released in May, found that in 2021 the refurbished smartphone market, powered by the ten main operators, was successful especially in Lombardy with a number of purchases that involved approximately 9.7 % of the regional population. The lowest percentages were recorded in Sicily, Campania, Calabria and other southern regions. Overall, around 2.1 million people have chosen this method across the country.

And if you ask yourself which are the best-selling refurbished smartphones, the answer is simple: iPhones and marginally some Samsung models. In particular, again according to the purchase data of 2021, the most purchased devices by Italian users were iPhone 8 (20%), iPhone X (9%) and iPhone 7 (6%). In 2022, on the other hand, the iPhone 11 and the XR will hold the spot, because they are characterized by the specifications most appreciated by consumers: "high-end, comfort in viewing audiovisual material and good quality of the camera, with savings of up to 70% of the price compared to to the new ”, underlines the Certideal report.

There are those who</a> want to open a public company to extract raw materials from electronic waste. The idea does not appeal to the consortia of the WEEE supply chain, while Italy remains below the European average in the collection of this waste. The heart of the market The iPhone dominates unchallenged in all platforms that sell refurbished for various reasons. The first is undoubtedly linked to demand and the fact that list prices remain quite high over time, ensuring some margins. In the Android world, discounts are applied a few months after the launch and grow over time at a much higher speed, as Fabio Plebani, general manager of Idealo in Italy had explained to in the past.

Then there is is a topic of supply sources for used smartphones and the availability of components for any repairs. “Over time, the situation has improved, but apart from Samsung, all the other brands in the Android world on components are weak. After two years of launch, it is sometimes very difficult to find some pieces, ”explains Thobe.

Deloitte Digital Consumer Trends 2021

deloitte Certideal, which has its headquarters in France, supplies supplies mainly in the United States thanks to agreements signed with various operators including At & t and Spring Mobile. Overseas, mobile contracts are very successful, allowing mobile phones to be changed every six months, producing mountains of practically new iPhones. There is talk of models fully compatible with European and Italian networks (including 5G). "There are even automatic tellers that do an instant valuation and once you leave your mobile phone they pay directly in cash", explains Macrì.

Ricompro instead buys large lots from leasing and long-term rental companies, from large companies that provide company smartphones to employees and finally take advantage of the trade-ins of ordinary consumers. “There would also be large batches from China but over time critical issues have emerged, it is not easy to find a good supplier”, Thobe emphasizes. There are no precise statistics in this regard, but those who work in the sector admit that anything can come from China, even apparently perfect models that show a battery status of 100% (therefore new), but in reality with 1,000 recharge cycles. In short, new frontiers of computer manipulation. No less important is the fact that sometimes the quality control standards of these oriental companies are a bit poor. "Our Italian suppliers may cost a little more but they are reliable", adds Thobe.

In-depth tests to ensure quality Thobe and Macrì describe their respective control procedures that are carried out on all iPhones arriving in the their centers. Procedures that require a first check on the presence of blocks or inability to start. And it is precisely in this phase that the stolen models or scam objects to ecommerce companies are immediately identified by Ricompro with the fake return game (they start the procedure, receive the money and then do not return the product).

Passed the first stage there is a phase where a specialized technician evaluates every external characteristic and some functions. “Our technician starts with 32 tests which he performs directly - says Macrì -. And here also emerges another reason why Android struggles with refurbished: they require many more tests and waste more time ". Then comes the time for the software routines that scan the devices in depth with about fifty further analyzes.

Thobe explains that Apple's batteries are playing a somewhat sprawling game. You can mount non-original ones that have identical performance to the original ones, after which an alert appears for about twenty recharging cycles that suggests the change. For this reason Ricompro prefers the original models. And here another flaw in the sector emerges since, for example, an original battery of an iPhone 7 can cost 50 euros while a non-original battery can cost around ten euros. Qualitatively they are identical but weigh differently on costs: on a refurbished iPhone 7 sold between 100 and 150 euros it means giving up 30-50%. “We have zealous quality control both inbound and outbound and I can assure you that no differences have occurred between the batteries over time. So this alert seems to me to make little sense ", underlines the CEO of riCompro.

Macrì admits that for batteries they use certified but not original products, moreover they let the customer choose whether to proceed with the change if the battery status is above 80-85%. The replacement costs about twenty euros but also ensures a 12-month warranty on the same which goes hand in hand with the 24 months applied to the smartphone. “For us also an issue of environmental sustainability. A battery above 80% is still valid, "says Macrì.

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