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Making Money Selling Used Cell Phones

Making money selling used mobile devices (cellular phones, tablets, smart watches, etc.) can be a profitable endeavor, but it will definitely require some careful planning and execution. Let’s take a closer look at the core processes and steps required to make money selling used mobile devices.

Planning and Material Sourcing

Sourcing devices consistently and reliably will likely be one of the major hurtles that your business will need to overcome to be successful. As part of your business model and planning you must develop a clear path forward. You need to consider which type of devices will be sourced and accepted as far as the devices age and grade ranges. Most importantly you must assess your own capabilities for testing and repairing the devices accepted.

Sourcing devices from online marketplaces, public collection, recycling vendors, business partners, and auctions.

It is important to note that access to marketplaces and auctions may require specific recycling standard certification such as the R2v3 (SERI’s Responsible Recycling Standard Version 3), RIOS (Recycling Industry Operational Standard), or e-Stewards (BAN). These requirements seem to be more and more the industry standard due to management of data security and associated environmental, health and safety risks.

In our one of our past blog posts, we discussed several auctions and marketplaces available to source devices:

Certification to SERI’s R2 Standard, currently the R2v3 version of the R2 standard, for example, will allow for the qualification of your business to bid at various Business to Business (B2B) liquidation marketplaces and auctions. R2 certification restrictions is becoming the norm for B2B marketplaces for buyers. The following marketing places currently have R2v3 Certification as a requirement for purchasing used electronic devices:

The used cell phone market is on fire right now and according to Customer Market Insights (CMI) Research – Global Refurbished and Used Mobile Phone Market in 2021 was estimated to be at 52.34 billion USD!

Over the next 10 year's the CMI market data is showing an estimated tripling of the market to around 150 billion USD by 2030. That represents an outstanding compound annual growth rate of 11.46% from 2022 to 2030.

Electronic Device Testing, Data Sanitization and Repair

Once material is received in your facility it will likely have to be inspected and sorted. Testing devices will be required to determine if the primary and secondary functions are working properly. Additionally, devices will need to be assessed to determine if they contain data from the prior user(s).

There are many options when it comes to commercially available data sanitization and/or verification software. The organization must choose carefully based on the variety of types of data storage media it will be handling. Sustainable Electronic Recycling International (SERI), the home of the R2 Standard (R2v3) has provided a sample list of available data sanitization software solutions.

Here is a summary of the data sanitization software options:

· Blancco

· Blackbelt Defense

· Certus Software GmbH

· Extreme Protocol Solutions

· FutureDial Inc

· Jetico Inc

· Kill disk

· Ontrack

· PhoneCheck

· Securaze AG

· Softthinks

· Stella Data Recovery (BitRaser)

· Ultratest Solutions

· Wipe Global

· WipeDrive

· WipeOS

· Ziperase

· iMT (iDdea Mobile Tech)

Following the data sanitization and testing process some devices may require repair. Organizations must determine to the best of their ability what is worth repairing and what is worth scrapping. This will all depend on the device type, market demand, along with the required type of repairs needed to make the device functional.

Resale of used Electronics Devices

Now that the used devices have been data wiped/sanitize and tested and repair they can now be prepared for resale. Market research will be needed to establish appropriate pricing for your inventory. Setting prices that are competitive and profitable is the sweet spot you should be shooting for. The next step is to get your inventory in front of buyers for purchase. There are wide variety of options for doing this. If you have a store front you can get your devices right in front of potential buyers which is a good option. However, if you want to get your inventory in front of a wider audience then eCommerce is a better option. Most businesses in this space will do a combination of both. eCommerce website options are numerous, and you can choose between developing your own website for resale or using an established platform like eBay, Amazon, or Back Market to name a few.

Continual Improvement

One of the things commonly forgotten when a business has been established is that continual improvement of the business processes is a critical element for survival especially in a highly competitive market. It is a common human tendency to get a bit lazy and continue with the status quo if things are going pretty well. Typically, we need some pressure in order to plan for change and improvement. One of the ways to keep on top of business process and ensure processes are analyze and making continual improvement is to acquire a certification that keeps you accountable. The ISO 9001 Quality Management System standard if properly implemented and utilized will provide the pressure needed make sure the business is always striving to improve. This standard focuses on quality and the customer perceptions and satisfaction which will feedback and ultimately drive improvement throughout the organization.

ISO 9001 is one of the requirements of the R2v3 Responsible Recycling standard if the organization is performing testing and repair activities. Additionally, the R2v3 standard requires two other ISO certification related to the environment and health and safety.

ISO 14001 for Environmental Management System and ISO 45001 Health and Safety Management System focus on first controlling the businesses environmental health and safety risks and then continual improvement of these areas over time.

For an electronic recycler having R2v3 plus the ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001 will allow for the development of sound practices for handling data securely as well as the management of environmental, health and safety risks associated with those devices. Certification to these standards will require a good deal of preparation as annual third-party audits are required to maintain and keep your certification in place.

For more information on these certifications please contact us to set up a quick meeting to discuss questions and more about the process, cost, and benefits to your organization.

Learn more:

Wilkshire Consulting -

(248) 890-9283


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