The Crunch: The electronics buyback and resale industry is a growth market with no clear leader. With a focus on transparency, MaxBack is well-positioned to fill that void by meeting the three core consumer expectations: trustworthiness, a fair offer, and a timely payment. To further establish itself in the industry, MaxBack recently introduced a marketplace to sell used, in-demand products like smartphones and Apple watches, which undergo rigorous screening before being included on the site.
Smartphones have taken on a larger role in our lives in recent years. We use them to text, get driving directions, post on social media, search the web and, sometimes, even make phone calls. With manufacturers like Apple and Samsung regularly releasing new, upgraded devices that customers line up to buy, what happens to the old models that still work?
Los Angeles-based market research firm IBISWorld says rising cellphone ownership, the emergence of smartphone technologies, and increasingly rapid mobile phone replacement rates have combined to boost both the replacement market and the cellphone reuse and recycling market. IBISWorld’s research showed the cellphone recycling and reuse industry generated $828 million in revenue in 2016, with an annual revenue growth rate of 15.8% from 2001 to 2016.
So the opportunity is there. While the electronics buyback industry is quite large, it still lacks a brand name with household recognition.
Enter MaxBack, a brand that differentiates itself from the competition with top dollar offers and quick payments for used smartphones, tablets, smart watches, and MacBooks. And, in an effort to establish itself as the go-to brand, MaxBack recently introduced a marketplace that allows consumers to browse and purchase the used smartphones and Apple watches that made it through its rigorous inspection and qualification process.
“It’s interesting, with the wireless market being as mature as it is, that no one has stepped forward to be that destination site,” said Sean Michaels, who helped found MaxBack and now serves as company president. “We think there’s definitely opportunity there. We know for a fact people want to buy used devices, and we feel we’re providing a service by qualifying them and standing behind them.”
Meeting the Three Core Requirements of a Customer Transaction
Most consumers who sell their used smartphones or electronic devices to a buyback site like MaxBack have no prior experience with the company. Sean said MaxBack focuses on fulfilling the three main requirements and expectations consumers have for such a transaction.
“First, they want to know they’re going get paid,” he said. “You’re dropping your $200 phone into the mail and hoping for the best. You don’t know the company you are working with very well, so establishing that level of trust is very important to us. We do that through reviews and the fact we have an established track record doing this since 2010.”
Customer feedback shows a significant level of trust in the brand. On Trustpilot, a website that publishes reviews of online businesses, 93% of the nearly 1,700 customers who left a review rated the company as “excellent.”
Sean said consumers also expect a fair value offer for their device.
“We try to be as competitive as we can,” Sean said. “We need to make money, of course, but we try to keep our costs low and lean so we can pay as much as we can. We know that’s certainly a big part of the equation when somebody chooses to use a site like ours.”
The buyback process is straightforward and fair. MaxBack gives users a projected value based on the model of the device and its condition. If, for example, the initial estimate of a smartphone is $200, and MaxBack inspects it and finds that the value is closer to $150, the customer has the option to accept the offer or decline it. If an offer is declined, the device will be shipped back to the consumer for free. In fact, Sean said MaxBack covers all shipping costs on buybacks.
The last piece of the puzzle that helps build trust and engage consumers is quick payments for the devices they sell. For customers with a PayPal account, MaxBack averages payment in three days or less from the time the company receives the phone. With some PayPal transactions, payments are made the same day that the phone arrives at the MaxBack warehouse. For those who prefer payment by check, the money arrives in an average of six to eight days.
“We are very cognizant of turnaround time,” Sean said.
Taking engagement a step further, customers receive email notifications throughout the entire process, from when the phone arrives and passes inspection to when payment is released. MaxBack recognizes that providing top notch customer service cuts to the core of what consumers want in a buyback transaction.
“We tried to set it up the way we would want it to be if we were selling a phone to a service or buying a phone,” Sean said. “We try to treat our customers the way we would want to be treated. That may sound cliché but that’s really what it comes down to.”
Inspection and Qualification Processes Build Customer Confidence
MaxBack has rigorous and detailed inspection process in place to build customer confidence. That review is even more important now that the company sells pre-owned smartphones and Apple watches through its online marketplace.
The International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI number for each phone that comes in is checked to verify that the phone is not lost, stolen, under financing, or unable to be activated or legally sold. Each phone also goes through a full functionality test.
The inspection and qualification checks are precautions not typically included with the purchase of used smartphones through peer-to-peer sites like Craigslist or Ebay.
“There are so many things that can go wrong with a phone that you might not even notice,” Sean said. “You may be well-intentioned as a seller, but you may not realize the microphone doesn’t work that well. These devices need to be tested. They need to be qualified. That’s part of the service we provide as a buyback company and a reseller.”
Another part of the service MaxBack provides in its commitment to transparency is high resolution photographs of the actual phone or device for sale on its marketplace.
“A common thing we hear from buyers is, ‘I want to see it,’” Sean said. “Users are very sensitive to the cosmetic condition of the device. If the phone is described in good condition with some light scratches, people want to see exactly how scratched up it is. You don’t see too much of that happening with other companies that sell used devices.”
MaxBack Offers Solutions for Consumers and Businesses Alike
Since 2010, MaxBack has maintained high customer satisfaction ratings while introducing new, innovative programs to build its brand.
For consumers, the addition of the MaxBack marketplace last year means access to more quality-tested, used devices, including Apple watches and smartphones as well as popular Samsung models.
While MaxBack continues to offer consumer solutions, it has also seen growth in the business solution space.
Today, more retailers utilize tablets for POS devices, and smartphones are standard equipment for sales teams and other segments of the modern workforce. As those businesses replace or upgrade devices, MaxBack offers bulk buyback of their used devices to help the companies generate a little extra revenue.
“There has been such a proliferation of devices,” Sean said. “They’re just becoming so commonplace. We pay more than the carriers because they don’t really want the devices back, so that is definitely an area where we are looking to expand.”