Would you buy a second-hand phone? What if I told you that it’s completely refurbished, meaning that it’s been cleaned, tested against defects, and perfectly suitable for sale at up to 70% of its original price?
That’s what Reebelo is trying to do. Originally launched in Singapore in 2019, the company has now expanded its services to Australia, New Zealand, and now Malaysia, following a US$1.25 million funding in its seed round.
Giving E-Waste A 2nd Life
As awareness for environmental issues grows, consumer behaviour is shifting towards eco-friendly and sustainable shopping options. Every action taken to reduce waste, no matter how small, can go a long way.
Reebelo is a platform that sells refurbished devices at a lower cost, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or even earphones. To clarify, the term “refurbished” and “second-hand” actually mean separate things.
Refurbished devices have gone through cleaning and testing to ensure that they are functioning and free of defects, thus suitable for sale.
However, second-hand devices may or may not be refurbished. “Typically if they are in good working order, they can be sold as is, or with minimal cleaning,” Shen Ong, country director of Reebelo Malaysia told Vulcan Post.
Gaining Customers’ Trust
Personally, I’m sceptical of buying refurbished devices, especially when it’s done online through peer-to-peer e-commerce sites like Carousell. Unless I’m aware of the device’s history and have physically tested the phone myself, I wouldn’t take that risk.
Similarly, Shen Ong admitted that this is one of the biggest stigmas towards what his company is trying to do. “The main sacrifice a consumer makes when purchasing second-hand devices is their trust,” he shared.
“Over 95% of refurbished or second-hand devices work without issue but for those that do have problems, it is incumbent on the seller to ensure good warranties and return policies,” he shared.
Hence, Reebelo sources their refurbished devices from vetted third-party vendors who must ensure a device’s functionality by inspecting them against a 40-point checklist. They cover the device’s battery health, screen condition, and working buttons, to name a few.
To add, Reebelo also has a warranty and returns policy. In case the product doesn’t meet your expectations or you’ve changed your mind, you can return it and get a refund within 14 days. However, the device must be returned in its original form and free of any passwords from iCloud, Google accounts, and the like.
Items will also come with a free 3-month warranty, which is covered by the vendors that partner with Reebelo.
Building A Circular Economy
“In 2019 alone, the world generated 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste, and this problem is only going to worsen with time. We believe that the resale of refurbished tech devices will help lessen this very real problem,” stated Shen Ong.
Thus far, Reebelo claims to have saved 600 tonnes of e-waste in 2020, playing its part in building a circular economy in reducing waste by continuing the lifespan of existing resources.
Across the causeway, Reebelo has a buy-back programme where the public can sell their old devices to Reebelo, who will refurbish the devices via outsourced vendors. Reebelo will then sell it to new customers for a profit, which is how the platform monetises.
Shen Ong told Vulcan Post that they have yet to launch this programme in Malaysia. However, I think it would be a good move for them to do so, as more players providing such services may increase the country’s rate of e-waste recycling, which is currently at 25%.
It would also increase my own confidence as a consumer to purchase these refurbished devices from them. Having a buy-back programme would suggest that these refurbished electronics came from actual users before, and not some kind of dump.
Instead of upgrading to the latest model year on year, shopping refurbished tech helps combat this issue by reducing the consumer’s carbon footprint. Additionally, Reebelo has pledged to plant one tree for every transaction on our website.Shen Ong, country director of Reebelo Malaysia.
Featured Image Credit: Philip Franta and Fabien Rastouil, co-founders of Reebelo