July 19, 2021 (Newswire.com) –

Close the Gap collects decommissioned computers from companies and arranges for other organizations to sanitize and refurbish them according to their end-users’ requirements. The computers are used to support educational, medical, entrepreneurial, and social projects in emerging and developing countries. Since its inception in 2004, Close the Gap has supported over 6,000 projects in more than 50 countries, donating over 1 million computers to reach over 3 million people.

This includes projects like the Pebbles Project in South Africa which received 20 desktops for students to do research for school projects. The Grootbos Foundation received 46 computers, for use in developing sustainable livelihoods through ecotourism, enterprise development, sports development, and education in the Cape Floral Kingdom (a region in South Africa). There is an endless need for projects like this, including Computers for Education in Malawi whose goal is to make sure that more schools and students gain access to quality IT devices; Close the Gap provided 100 computers for this initiative.

TES processes millions of laptops, desktops, tablets, and mobile devices annually after collecting them from its partner organizations. Their certified process records, securely sanitizes, and grades the devices, before determining they are suitable for refurbishing for re-use with social and educational projects identified by Close the Gap. TES’s partnership with Close the Gap provides a local presence in many countries and enables the mission of better connecting those that need it most.

Gary Steele, TES’s CEO, said, “Extending the lifespan of repurposed technology devices is foundational to TES and our mission to securely, safely, and sustainably transform and re-purpose 1 billion kg of assets by 2030. The partnership between TES and Close the Gap represents an extension of that foundation and furthers our commitment to global corporate social responsibility.” Steele added, “We are proud to participate in a program that makes quality refurbished IT assets available to people who otherwise would not have access. The reuse of IT assets for education stimulates local development and contributes to a more sustainable, circular economy.”

Olivier Vanden Eynde, the founder of Close the Gap, said, “By working towards making ICT assets 100% circular, we aim to bridge the digital divide and provide equal access to information and communication technology so that, regardless of your location, you can reach your full potential and create a prosperous sustainable future for all. This new partnership with TES accelerates the monitoring of our refurbishment process, transport, export/import process, distribution, installation and maintenance, and local collection and recycling.”

About TES – https://www.tes-amm.com

Founded in 2005, TES is a global leader of sustainable technology services and bespoke solutions that help clients manage the commissioning, deployment, and retirement of technology devices and components. As one of the largest IT lifecycle service providers in the world, TES understands the common challenges faced when managing IT equipment throughout its lifecycle, and bespoke, cost-effective solutions address these challenges while achieving compliance with all local and international data security, environmental, and industry regulations.

With a mission to make a decade of difference by securely, safely, and sustainably transforming and re-purposing 1 billion kg of assets by 2030 through an unmatched global footprint of 42 owned facilities across 21 countries, TES offers unrivaled service-level consistency, consistent commercials, lower logistics costs, local environmental compliance experts in-region, support in local time zones and languages, and a deep understanding of trans-boundary movement globally.

About Close the Gap

Close the Gap, founded by Olivier Vanden Eynde in 2004, is an international social enterprise that aims to bridge the digital divide by offering high-quality, pre-owned computers donated by large and medium-sized corporations or public organizations to different projects in developing and emerging counties. Recycle, refurbish, and remarket are the three pillars that are central to the organization. Decommissioned computers from other companies are collected, cleaned, checked, and adapted to the needs of their end-user. The computers are then shipped to the destination country to support educational, medical, entrepreneurial, and social projects. All projects are demand-driven and impact-oriented initiatives. Since 2004, Close the Gap has already received more than 1,007,000 computers from companies all over the world; more than 6,280 projects from all over the world (mainly in Africa) were supported by Close the Gap, and more than 3,220,000 beneficiaries were reached.

Close the Gap also powers Worldloop (sustainable e-waste recycling), the BOOST programme—formerly known as the Leap2 programme (supporting local entrepreneurship and innovation)—and the Digital for Development platform, all contributing to creating impact in developing and emerging countries all over the world.

Source: TES

Refurbished electronics marketplaces are having a second

The refurbished electronics industry has gotten a second look from customers over the past year. In the past, refurbished gadgets — which refers to professionally repaired used products — had a lukewarm reputation. Customers often were worried the products would malfunction, or in some cases, were counterfeit.
But as with secondhand apparel and sneakers, sales of refurbished electronics boomed during the pandemic. For example, Amazon’s refurbished brand, Amazon Renewed, became Amazon’s third most popular electronics brand in June 2020. Meanwhile, a number of online marketplaces that sell certified used electronics had a big year in 2020. Several factors — including the nationwide laptop shortage, cost consciousness and shipping delays — resulted in more consumers turning to secondhand electronics. Now, these brands and marketplaces that sell large amounts of refurbished electronics are looking to retain customers by widening their inventory selection and pledging more stringent quality control. 

One player looking to maximize the demand’s momentum is Back Market, a French refurbished electronics marketplace founded in 2014. The company reported a 1,000% increase in year-over-year sales between 2019 and 2020, which continues to grow. Back Market currently has over 5 million customers worldwide, and counts the U.S. as one its biggest markets,
Serge Verdoux, chief commercial officer at Back Market, told Modern Retail that the reason the platform’s offerings are breaking through with American consumers is due to several tech trends. 
“There hasn’t been major innovation or design breakthroughs in recent years, while the prices are staying high or increasing,” he explained, referring to annual smartphone releases by Apple, Google and Samsung, among others. The price of the iPhone, for instance, has drastically increased since 2017, the first year Apple introduced s smartphone that cost more than $1,000. One of its newest models, 512GB iPhone 12 Pro Max, retails for for $1,399.
Laptop and iPhone searches consistently ranking the highest on the site. MacBook sales tripled overnight in April 2020 and have stayed strong, Verdoux said. “Customers are becoming okay with buying slightly older models to save money and help reduce waste.” 
Another factor is increased availability. Verdoux said that with more digital channels — including Amazon, eBay and Back Market — offering professionally refurbished products, customers are getting more comfortable with searching for them online. In 2019, 65% of Back Market’s surveyed consumers said they don’t feel confident buying refurbished, while in 2021 65% said they would purchase refurbished goods.

Similarly, eBay’s certified refurbished hub saw growth last year, especially during the holiday period. During the 2020 Thanksgiving weekend’s cyber week, eBay saw a 120% increase in sales of certified refurbished electronics.
Bradford Shellhammer, vp of buyer experience at eBay, said the company’s resale and refurbished programs are getting more popular among customers. “We continue to see strong velocity in our certified refurbished program, particularly in our electronics category, as buyers prioritize sustainable and cost-efficient shopping,” Shellhammer said. The program offers a two-year warranty, money-back guarantee and easy returns, he continued. This helps shoppers feel confident in purchasing the professionally inspected items at a discounted price, Shellhammer said.
Last year, eBay unveiled plans to expand its pre-owned offerings and partnerships with electronics makers — which include Samsung, Lenovo and Dyson. The hub allows brands to directly list and sell their refurbished products on eBay. During the first quarter of 2021, eBay expanded the certified refurbishment program in the U.S. to include 150 brands, and launched certified refurbished in the U.K., Canada and Germany.
A focus on retention
After the huge increase in sales it saw last year, Back Market is expanding its assortments beyond the work and home-learning essentials that were popular last summer. One growing area of interest is gaming. Between the first quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2021, Back Market’s game console sales in the U.S. grew by 950%, and at the same time the average sale prices increased by 38%. The company is also increasingly investing in search and organic marketing, in an effort to reach customers looking for new versions of its listings. Back Market raised $335 million in funding in May, which will be invested in the platform’s expansion and tech capabilities.
However, customer service is still the top priority for retention, said Verdoux. “Many of our customers tend to be repeat customers, which is highly dependent on our customer service and the products’ quality,” said Verdoux. He said that the company’s failure rate — which refers to when a customer receives a product and it doesn’t work propoerly — is about 5% “which continues to rapidly decrease.” He claimed that the failure rate for new electronics is close to 3%.
To ensure a greater selection of inventory and quality control, Back Market employs about 80 commercial sales and account managers who find and onboard sellers, then help them manage their business on the platform. 
“We also work with about 20 manufacturers and brands directly,” he added, which include Bosch, Dyson and BrightStar, an Apple trade-in partner. In the coming year, Back Market plans to expand to more consumer categories. “Our assortment goal is to cover anything consumers can plug into a wall outlet,” said Verdoux.
As in resale, certified refurbishment players are looking to adjust after a year-plus of hyper-growth, said David Malka, chief sales officer at goTRG, a returns company that works with Walmart, Lowe’s and Amazon.
To date, Best Buy and Apple have dominated the space with their in-house certified refurbishment programs. And e-commerce newcomers like Back Market and TheStore.com are also gaining a market share. “Trusted resellers like these back their promises with extended warranties and return policies, to make customers feel comfortable with refurbished products,” said Malka.
More retailers are also exploring sales of refurbished electronics. For instance, goTRG is currently running a pilot program, called goMINT, starting with a partnership with Walmart. “It’s a way to keep their products in a closed loop and circular supply chain. The partner retailer sends goTRG returned electronics, “which we put through our rigorous, certified refurbishment process and then send them back to be sold within their own stores or website,” Malka explained.
For refurbishment brands and platforms to retain customers in the same way standard retailers do, “they need to be customer-centric at all times,” he concluded. “Customers want a discount, but they’re not willing to sacrifice quality to get it.”