Refurbished market could be the future of consumer technology: Xtracover CEO

Refurbished electronic gadgets in India is the growing trend. No matter which part of India you are from, everyone loves a cheaper, high quality device that is same as the original one. A rising middle-class and value consciousness has given boost to refurbished industry in the country with demand for second-hand smartphones, automobiles, furniture, and electrical appliances on the rise. There are several key players in the online refurbishing space in India, one such platform is Xtracover. In an interview with Shweta Srivastava, Soumitra Gupta, CEO of Xtracover, shared his experiences about his business, what turned people to refurbished products and more. Excerpts:

Can you please brief us about Xtracover? What does the platform stand for now?

Xtracover is India’s fastest-growing online platform, offering a comprehensive variety of refurbished electronic gadgets and appliances alongside first-rate after-sales services. As a unit of Aforeserve Technologies (P) Ltd (ATPL), the company furnishes a one-stop solution for all repair, service and maintenance requirements. ATPL was founded in New Delhi by the founder and core team of Aforeserve.com Ltd., which has over 20 years of expertise in IT repair and services.

We launched the business in February 2017. However, the operations did not begin until the end of 2019. We established Aforeserve.com Ltd. two decades ago and launched Xtracover to be the best-in-class consumer service brand for all white goods and electronic devices.

The firm aspires to become a premium consumer brand in the industry by providing the best refurbished equipment and exceptional after-sales services.

Xtracover’s key offerings, which cover the whole spectrum of after-sales support for mobile phones, IT equipment, and consumer electronics:

  • Extended warranties, refurbished device warranties, accidental damage protection, and screen damage protection are all available.
  • Repair and Refurbishment services.
  • Sell-n-cash – Buyback of old devices from Customers for cash.
  • Pre-owned certified device sales.
  • Buy New – Price Discovery & Comparison for brand new devices.
  • Health check certification (XCQC).

Refurbished consumer electronics have been around for years, but why have they not taken off as anticipated?

Since the pandemic, people have started to trust refurbished products more. One could say that the reasons are cost-effectiveness and increasing trust in brands offering refurbished products, as the market moves from an unorganized one to a more structured one.

Refurbished electronic products have multiple advantages, from reduced costs to being eco-friendly. With the entry of more organized players in the refurbished industry, consumers are further able to access high-quality and tested products in the market. Having been estimated at $10 billion, and with consumer demand steadily growing, the refurbished market certainly cannot be ignored, and it could just be the future of consumer technology.

XtraCover

Do you think that the ongoing chip shortage has turned people to refurbished products? If yes, do you have any numbers to estimate the growth in the refurbished segment?

Smartphone usage in India has increased as the internet has become more widely available. Sales in the first half of 2021 were at their highest level ever. As smartphone usage increases, precious metals and other materials needed to manufacture them are also becoming scarce. In a hundred years, some of them might be depleted. As a result of the microchip shortage affecting most of the car industry, the smartphone industry is also feeling the effects. It will be up to the manufacturers, who are already pressed for resources, to save them. Thus, more usage of refurbished smartphones and other electronics is crucial and should be encouraged.

What is the repeat buying rate by customers so far?

While it is still too early to evaluate repeat buying rates for the refurbished devices we sell individually, we have seen a significant repeat rate in our cross-category services. For instance, a person who buys a refurbished smartphone comes back to us for warranty on a new phone he/she has bought or for repair on other devices he/she has purchased. The fact that Xtracover offers a complete life cycle solution for mobile phones makes our customers return to us for services in other categories. Services offered by Xtracover include the following:

  • Repair and Refurbishment services
  • Pre-owned certified device sales
  • Sell-n-cash – Buy back of old devices from Customers for cash
  • Warranty support- extended warranty for new devices, refurbished device warranty, accidental damage protection and screen damage protection
  • Health check certification (XCQC) – 64 parameter check for a mobile phone at any stage of its life
  • Buy New – Price Discovery & Comparison for brand new devices

Which products are the most bought?

Consumers around the world remain primarily interested in mobile phones, and the market for refurbished smartphones in India is vast. The market has so much to offer, that we’ve only scratched the surface. Increasing the level of organization in the refurbished sector will allow the market to realize its true potential. In a nutshell, we believe that Xtracover is poised to make a giant leap as the pioneers in this field and have set ourselves up to take full advantage.

Also Read | ShopClues announces relaunch of bigger and better ‘Refurbished Electronics’ category

What are the government guidelines for refurbished items?

There are now no government-issued criteria, nor is there any necessity to fulfill defined quality requirements or certification, this is where there seems to be a little gray area within the refurbished market. For each mobile phone sold on our marketplace, we at Xtracover developed and executed the standardized XCQC quality certification. The XCQC diagnostic tool does a 64-parameter quality check, including auto and semi-manual inspections, and provides a unique certificate for each device, which is then automatically uploaded to the cloud and accessible from any location to verify the device’s health.

We would like to know about the major challenges that you faced while creating Xtracover. How did you handle those challenges?

Xtracover is committed to guaranteeing customer satisfaction; the core staff consists of a diverse group of specialists with over 20 years of expertise in repairs, refurbishing, warranty support, and product lifecycle management. The highly advanced team also has extensive industry knowledge and long-term OEM and ODM relationships. The company’s capacity to acquire components from all over the globe (and even directly from OEMs) offers it a competitive advantage over its competitors in the market, thanks to its strong local and worldwide supply chain. As a result, when we introduced Xtracover, we were well prepared.

What is the innovation in business models, in terms of customer reach out, delivery, and problem-solving?

Since there are no structured companies in the market with a similar outlook, ATPL is committed to extending its services to the B2C and B2B2C segments through its brand, Xtracover.

Xtracover prides itself on offering exceptional service to its clients. It thinks that by retaining clients to use the full range of services, it would not only boost repeat purchases but also lower client acquisition expenses.

Do you see easy payment solutions including buy now pay later has made it easier to shop new items online? Do you also provide such easy payment solutions?

Pre-paid (with Credit Cards, Debit Cards, Net Banking, or UPI), Cash on Delivery, and EMI payment solutions are furnished within our interoperable payment system at Xtracover.

There are many similar and trustworthy platforms available in the market. Why do your customers select you over your competitors? How is Xtracover still different from other market places?

Xtracover is a forerunner in this newly organized market, with an emphasis on client satisfaction. All refurbished smartphones offered on Xtracover’s platform come with a one-year guarantee and are XCQC’s 64-parameter inspected and certified. Orders can be acquired and delivered across India via the e-commerce platform. All of this adds up to increased trust in refurbished products, which expands the market.

How was the year 2021 for Xtracover in terms of business growth?

Towards the end of 2019, Xtracover began operations. Then came the Covid pandemic and shut downs, and the year 2020 was pretty much wiped out as our offerings were classified as non-essentials. Even while it gave the Xtracover team time to assess and modify a few things, it wasn’t until 2021 that the company began to develop steadily. Today, Xtracover is one of India’s fastest-growing online platforms, offering a comprehensive variety of mobile phone after-sales services.

What is making you hopeful for 2022?

To expand its worldwide reach, the business wants to create Export Oriented Units (EOU) in India in the future. It plans to obtain items from major clients overseas, refurbish them in depositary warehouses, and then transport them back to the consumer. Considering India prohibits the importation of scrapped items for refurbishment and resale, one approach for expanding the company’s worldwide footprint is to ship them back and collect the service fee.

In 2017, the refurbished market began to attract consumer attention. Since then, consumers have been more aware of the refurbished market and have begun to opt for it. According to research, the worldwide market for refurbished mobile phones expanded by 4% in 2020 and is predicted to rise significantly by the end of 2021. Meanwhile, India is expected to be one of the top markets for refurbished smartphones in the coming years, for a variety of reasons, including a scarcity of precious metals, cost-effectiveness, and increased access to first-rate refurbished devices, the availability of quality assurance and warranty, and environmental concerns.

If a refurbished product can provide the optimum value offer to the client, gain credibility, and then follow up with proactive after-sales services, it will raise interest and strengthen the refurbished market. This sector has a lot of promise and will only grow in the future.

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