Updated: 9.27.16 Online Marketplace

Gazelle Teams Up With Self-Serve ecoATM Kiosks to Help Consumers Get Cash for Unwanted Gadgets

By: Lindsey Carman

The Crunch: Most consumers obsess over the latest electronics, especially when the newest versions come out. On average, Americans replace phones every 22 months, whether they’re broken or in mint condition. Recycling used devices was Gazelle‘s solution to the electronic waste and growing landfill problem that followed the rise of technology. The e-commerce company, a pioneer in the ‘reCommerce’ space, began buying and selling pre-owned consumer electronics to give them a second life. Through their 30-point inspection process, the Gazelle team refurbishes smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops to get them in tip-top shape for repurchasing purposes. Since 2006, Gazelle has handled more than 2 million consumer devices and paid out $250 million for items people no longer need — all the while eliminating electronic waste. 

I remember upgrading to the iPhone 6. The features I was most excited about were the larger screen and better selfie-taking camera; my iPhone 4 just wasn’t cutting it. I’ve now had the iPhone 6 for over a year, and had forgotten about the other one lying at the bottom of my desk drawer. One day, I went to grab something from the drawer and found the lifeless device there, still free from scratches and impeccably new-looking. A sinking feeling grew in the pit of my stomach; this electronic was still perfectly usable for someone else, and here it was — just lying here with no purpose.

It seems like Apple rolls out with a new iPhone, iPad, or other techy gadget every few months; and, of course, people have to upgrade once the latest version is available to the public. Take a look at a tech store’s gleaming window displays — filled with shiny, new devices — and it’s no wonder people walk in drooling over the new novelties and leave with a faster, sleeker product. So what happens to all the old phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops once they’re tossed aside? 

As electronic waste increased in landfills, Gazelle, an e-commerce company, found a way to repurpose devices. Buying and selling pre-owned consumer devices would not only keep electronics out of the landfill, but also give consumers who couldn’t afford brand-new products a chance to buy them. So Gazelle pioneered the reCommerce space, a market that’s dedicated to the recovery of products through the Internet or distribution channels. This revolutionary concept was a big hit with consumers, who have been paid out over $250 million for used, pre-owned electronics. 

Almost a decade later, Gazelle is still inventing ways to help consumers get cash faster for their unwanted, unused devices. Before, consumers would have to ship their old devices and wait to get paid; but now they can get paid on-the-spot at ecoATM kiosks (which are located near retailers and malls). Making the process easier for consumers to sell their old devices encourages them to give them a second life while making a great impact in the reCommerce market.

Creating a Way to Reuse Consumer Electronics

In 2006, Israel Ganot, Rousseau Aurelien, and James McElhiney questioned why people couldn’t trade in used phones like they could used cars. They noticed a lack of recycling and reuse for consumer electronics, so they pioneered what would be called ‘the reCommerce market.’ After developing a unique business model, Israel and his partners launched Gazelle, which is still headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.

The name ‘Gazelle’ embodies the company’s ‘incredibly fast & sleek’ business model.

“Since pioneering the idea of reCommerce, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the space, thanks to the introduction of a number of new devices,” said Amy Rice, Gazelle’s Gadget Expert. “The reCommerce opportunity is driven by the record pace of innovation that we’ve seen in mobile devices in the last few years.”

Just like its name, Gazelle became known for being ‘incredibly fast, sleek, and lean’ as a simple online trade-in service. After much growth, the e-commerce company launched a brick-and-mortar store in 2014 that started selling Gazelle-Certified pre-owned devices to give consumers a cheaper alternative for buying electronics. Two million devices later, Gazelle has paid out over $250 million for unwanted devices. In 2015, Outerwall (the company that powers Coinstar and Redbox) acquired Gazelle to offer more convenient ways for consumers to sell their devices. Thanks to ecoATM kiosks, shoppers can get paid on-the-spot for old smartphones and other handheld devices.

Gazelle’s 30-Point Inspection Builds Trust for Buyers & Sellers

Selling old iPhones, tablets, and computers at Gazelle.com is pretty straightforward. Consumers can look up their device at Gazelle.com, answer a few questions (e.g., the device’s working condition, features, or version), then they’ll receive a free offer that’s good for 30 days. Once they’ve accepted the offer, sellers can ship the item for free to Gazelle’s warehouse and get paid by check, Amazon gift cards, or PayPal.

What makes Gazelle stand out from competitors is their thorough 30-point inspection process. Once the device arrives at the world-class processing facility in Louisville, Kentucky, Gazelle team members inspect its features, flaws, and working parts. Each device is inspected for dead pixels, cracked glass, camera clarity, wifi access, and touchscreen functions. Then team members fix anything that’s wrong.

Gazelle team members make sure that each repurposed device works well for consumers who buy the pre-owned product.

“The Gazelle Certification process includes a rigorous inspection process involving a 30-point functional and cosmetic inspection,” Amy said. “This ensures that the devices are in accurate cosmetic condition and perfect working order.”

After its working condition is approved, the Gazelle-Certified device is ready to be purchased at buy.gazelle.com. Let’s say a consumer wants to buy an iPhone 5S phone (which costs between $650 to $800). She or he can save up to 40% by purchasing a pre-owned one from Gazelle compared to a new one from the Apple store. There are no hidden fees or strings-attached contracts; all the consumer pays is just one affordable price for a perfectly working phone. Despite experiencing scams when selling or buying electronics on third-party sites like Craigslist, buyers and sellers trust Gazelle to give them a fair offer and purchase working devices.

Consumers Can Get Paid On-the-Spot at ecoATM Kiosks

Shoppers no longer need to wait to get paid for pre-owned electronic devices with Outerwall’s ecoATM kiosks; Gazelle now accepts and pays for unwanted, used items right on the spot. EcoATM kiosks — located near malls and retailers — are a safe, convenient way to sell devices without having to ship products and wait for the check to be mailed. It’s like getting instant cash just by dropping off an unused phone while you’re out.

“Together, ecoATM and Gazelle provide consumers with the best options when it comes to buying, reselling, and trading in pre-owned electronics,” Amy said. “The companies have a commitment to delivering convenient consumer solutions via online channels or in-person, depending on the preference of the consumer.”

Known as ‘the world’s first and only automated kiosk,’ ecoATM kiosks buys back most handheld electronics. All consumers need to do is place the mobile device on the test station, then the kiosk begins to examine it within seconds. Once that process is completed, the ATM offers consumers the best possible price for the device, which he or she can either accept or reject. If consumers are happy with the offer, they can complete the trade-in and walked away with a pocket full of cash, ready to upgrade to a new device.

At the heart of any retail brand, convenience and simplicity will always win consumers over. Gazelle’s innovations and partnerships simplify the buying and selling process so consumers are encouraged to recycle electronics after they purchase the latest versions. Gazelle has opened up a market that supports the electronics industry and the practice of repurposing products.

Here’s Why the reCommerce Market Isn’t Going Away

There’s a chance for new life for an iPhone 4 like mine; if I just ship it to Gazelle’s warehouse — or drop it off at a nearby ecoATM kiosk— I can get cash while giving someone else the opportunity to afford a phone. As long as Apple launches the latest iPhone versions, and Android, Samsung, and other electronics makers sell sleeker, faster phones, there will always be a need for reCommerce companies like Gazelle. The rise of the reCommerce market not only eliminates waste and encourages recycling, but it also supports the electronics industry by letting consumers sell their old products and purchase the newest versions.

Gazelle’s biggest goal is to prepare for the possible release of the iPhone in September, which will bring a surge of unused phones to Gazelle.com and ecoATM kiosks. Whenever the latest device is launched in the future, Gazelle will be there ready to take old electronics off consumers’ hands.

“Apple is rumored to be launching the iPhone 7 this fall,” Amy said. “As consumers look to upgrade, stay tuned for Gazelle’s offer to consumers who will be looking to upgrade their device.”

About The Author

Highlighting the movers and shakers in the retail space, Lindsey Carman writes in-depth features that showcase the passionate team behind successful brands. You can see her cover the next marketing trend or retail disruptor in the IndustryCrunch blog.

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