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Tapping Into the Green Minded Consumer with Refurbs

Online sellers are learning they can appeal to consumers who are interested in going green and saving money by providing them with options to make them feel good about their purchases. One way is through refurbished products, or “refurbs.”

Jeff Rechtzigel, Vice President of Ecommerce for Liquidity Services, brings us up to speed in today’s guest column on sourcing refurbished products and best practices. See how doing good for the environment can be a good business model.

Tapping Into the Green Minded Consumer with Refurbs

By Jeff Rechtzigel

Green living and sustainability have been hot topics in recent years. By focusing on ways both business and society can help decrease waste and lessen environmental impact, we can all play a role in sustainability.

As we enter into Sustainability Month in April, online merchants should be thinking of ways to tap into the green-minded consumer. A growing trend with consumers that not only appeals to their eco-conscious but also their wallet is to buy refurbished. The refurbished market is estimated to be about $10 billion and is growing.

But, what is a refurbished product? Refurbished products are goods that have been returned to the manufacturer or vendor for a multitude of reasons and then restored to like new condition. Often times, these are in the form of consumer returns in which only the package was open. Other times, the product was returned under warranty. Either way, the product is tested, functionality verified, and repairs completed if necessary.

Why Consumers Love Refurbished 
Consumer demand is driving the refurbished market’s growth. Some consumers that buy refurbished products consider themselves environmentally-friendly and want to prevent items such as electronics from ending up in landfills. Others see refurbished products as cost-effective alternatives to increasingly expensive new ones.

Consumers are also now trusting that refurbished products perform just as well as brand new devices. A reputable vendor will refurbish items to factory specifications, undergo performance and reliability checks to ensure they operate just as effectively as the latest products, and offer the consumer a warranty on the product. This protects not only the consumer’s purchase, but also the manufacturer brand.

Liquidity Services conducted a survey which found that the refurbished market is indeed robust and should continue growing. With over 1,400 responses, about 75% of consumers said that they were likely to buy refurbished electronics and 94% that they had bought a refurbished product in the last three years.

Additionally, 84% of buyers consider refurbished a fair value and are generally satisfied with their purchases, meaning they’ll be back to buy again, and 81% of buyers are also likely to recommend buying a refurbished product. This positive word-of-mouth should spur continued market growth.

Best Practices for Selling Refurbished
The refurbished sector is clearly ripe and leaves a huge opportunity for merchants to drive additional sales and appeal to the “green” in their buyer base.

The first hurdle for small merchants is where to find consumer grade refurbished product. Your customer base is your most important asset and ensuring that you source top grade refurbished product from a reputable source is paramount to protecting those relationships. Marketplaces such as Liquidation.com have a variety of refurbished product, from consumer electronics to DIY tools, that come from the leading retailers and top manufacturers and are guaranteed refurbished to factory specifications.

Be online: The majority of consumers who buy refurbished products do so online. Of consumers surveyed, 82 percent are more likely to purchase online than in-store. And, through today’s ecommerce environment, you have the ability to leverage multiple sales channels to reach a wide array of customers.

Emphasize the deal factor: According to our survey, 96 percent of consumers say buying refurbished helps them save money. Additionally, a large majority of consumers said they liked buying refurbished goods because it gives them an opportunity to try new products without a major financial commitment. One simple way to emphasize the deal factor is by showing the original price of a brand new product side-by-side with the price of the refurbished good.

Be online: Build trust through warranties and accurate product descriptions. Most consumers agree that accurate information on product condition is a top consideration, second only to price. Accurately communicating what features a product has, the condition of the item, warranty information, and whether or not it comes with accessories goes a long way to building customer trust.

Provide a return policy: Shoppers want to be confident that their electronics and other products will work on arrival, or that they will be replaced with no hassle if they don’t. Studies by the National Retail Federation have shown that retailers and e-tailers that have easy return policies tend to attract and retain more customers.

Refurbished products are becoming more popular every day and now is the time to capitalize on consumer demand and build your customer loyalty.

About the Guest Columnist:

Jeff Rechtzigel serves as Vice President of eCommerce at Liquidity Services, helping hundreds of the world’s top retailers and consumer OEMs unlock strategic value in their reverse supply chain. He is responsible for enabling the resale of refurbished and surplus goods across a wide array of B2C and B2B marketplaces, including Liquidation.com and Secondipity.com. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has twenty years of experience in ecommerce and operations leadership.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.