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The refurbished tech sector is big business and continues to grow quickly. 

Almost two-thirds (64%) of UK consumers have previously bought a refurbished or repaired electrical item, with twice as many people stating they’d buy a used washing machine or fridge than second-hand clothing items. A recent study by Barclaycard Payments, meanwhile, has revealed that ‘re-commerce’ already contributes nearly £7bn to the UK economy annually.

Buying refurbished electronics certainly offers value to consumers, with many items that are essentially as good as new selling for up to 50% off RRP. But it’s not just about price; consumers are also increasingly being attracted to the refurb market because of its environmental credentials. 

Two-thirds of consumers now look at the environmental credentials of a brand when purchasing an item, with almost three-quarters of those evaluating not only the products themselves but factors such as deliveries and returns. Refurbished electronics stand out in this environment for their attractive circular economy appeal. 

It’s a potentially lucrative opportunity for many electronics manufacturers, but there’s still a long way to go if the refurbished market is to reach its full environmental and customer experience potential.


Challenging the status quo in refurbishment

For a start, there are some fundamental challenges in the traditional refurbishment process. With those in mind, we’re pioneering a new strategy to accelerate and simplify the return, assessment, and re-sale of repairable electronic products to the market.

In the existing model, when consumers encounter issues with their electronic purchases, the items are sent back to the local fulfilment centre responsible for the initial logistics. These products are then transported back to their original manufacturing locations, often thousands of miles away, such as in China, to diagnose and fix the problem. 

Following repair, these refurbished items are then shipped once more back to their original destination market for resale. This roundabout journey not only increases the item’s carbon footprint significantly but also incurs additional costs and time delays, which in turn ties up capital.

To put it into perspective, consider the scenario of a consumer tech retailer that sells around 100,000 units in the UK annually. With a typical return rate of 10% or more, and around a quarter of those returns usually returned as faulty, thousands of products annually endure this inefficient and environmentally detrimental round-trip. And of course, this issue is not confined to the UK market alone; it's a global concern affecting sales and returns across mainland Europe, the US, and beyond.


A localised approach

To counteract the logistical and ecological burdens associated with sending returned products back to their manufacturing origins, we have created a service that enables issues to be resolved and items to be returned to the market as refurbs, all without ever leaving the intended destination of sale. 

To do this, we’ve established a network of regional returns centres, initially in the US and UK, where returned items undergo thorough assessment, testing, and refurbishment by experts we employ locally. 

The comprehensive service covers the complete end-to-end process: from the logistics of returns to diagnostics and repair (managed by our skilled team utilising detailed guidelines provided by the manufacturers), right through to the re-introduction of refurbished items on the market for resale.

Our aim is to take the pain out of inefficient returns processes for manufacturers and handle it on their behalf. In turn, this will streamline the entire refurbishment process, ensuring a more sustainable and efficient resolution for returned products that benefits our customers, the end consumer and the environment alike.


Making it easier to resell

Our approach also resolves another key challenge with maximising the potential of the refurbished market.

A significant portion of the refurbished goods market, 80% to be exact, is dominated by online sales, primarily through platforms like eBay. Despite this, many online marketplaces lack the specific features required to adequately list and sell refurbished, repaired, or ‘like-new’ consumer electronics. 

We close this gap in the market by either supporting customers in establishing dedicated online storefronts for refurbished goods or helping them integrate a refurbished section within their existing ecommerce platforms. 

The model therefore, not only promotes environmental sustainability by minimising waste but also enhances consumer access to affordable, high-quality products while creating new, sustainable revenue streams for manufacturers.


Full circle 

By utilising this service offering, our customers can significantly reduce their environmental impact while unlocking new revenue opportunities. 

It not only resonates with the growing demographic of eco-conscious consumers but also sets a new standard in retail for sustainability and customer service. Indeed, we believe that this approach offers a blueprint for the future, showcasing how businesses can thrive by integrating circular economy principles into their operations.

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