Swap shops are the new upgrades

It’s getting harder and harder to say goodbye to our work devices, notes Billy MacInnes


Image: Rodnae Productions via Pexels

In recent years, many of us have become accustomed to the idea of ​​trading in our older phones for newer models. It’s a good thing, no doubt about it. You only have to look in the drawers of most households to find one or two old telephones to realize how the trade-in trend has helped significantly reduce the potential amount of electronic waste in our homes.

For the most part, we either exchange the phones back to the suppliers, or we sell/trade them in specialty stores that have set up a channel for refurbished devices. With the growing maturity of the smartphone market, we tend to hold onto our devices longer before replacing them. In some cases, people can exchange them for a more recent model, but not necessarily for the latest model.

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


This has mainly been limited to manufacturers, operators and specialist refurbished sellers, but retailers are starting to get very interested in it as well. In a recent conversation with David Nelson, sales director for EMEA Trade In Services at Tech Data, he revealed that there had been “a step change” in the attitude of retailers to trade in and that they were “catching up” with operators by heavily invest in trade in services.

What I found most interesting was his view of resellers, a group Nelson described as “the slowest group to catch up.” He argued that this was because the B2B market was much less accustomed to “the movement” of device trading, pointing out that the sales cycle was very different than for home or personal users. As consumers, we felt comfortable entering a store, swapping a phone one-to-one, and walking away with a new device.

The reality for people at work is that they can’t give up their old phone until they can get a new one, but they also tend to hold onto their old model longer after they receive a replacement — and may not give it back at all. “The sales cycle is very different,” Nelson said. Prices can also be volatile and if a user holds on to the old phone for too long, it could affect the trade-in scheme.

“It depends on getting the phone back,” he said. If the user is holding the device, the price may have changed and the trade-in provider may have to re-quote the price for the device. And getting the price right “is one of the hardest parts of trading,” Nelson warned.

Given the potential loss of revenue and the work that causes employees to turn in their old phones quickly, some companies may think it’s not worth the time.

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

The hope is that consumer behavior will eventually lead to a change of mindset and prompt people to trade in their devices quickly. It makes sense, let’s hope it works.

Read more: Billy MacInnes Blog Blogs Circular economy smartphones

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