Turning Electronics Into Cash: The Art of 'Re-Commerce'
You're probably familiar with the term "e-commerce," which refers to the process of buying and selling goods online, but how about "re-commerce"? Born out of the economic crisis in 2008, re-commerce is the process of buying and selling used goods online.
Gazelle, ranked No. 24 in Inc. Magazine's list of the 500 fastest growing companies in 2010, was established in 2006 specifically for the exchange of electronics for cash. Gazelle collects 22 categories of unwanted electronics, including cell phones, cameras and computers. Gazelle's average payout is $100.
How it works
Gather your gadgets, cords, adapters and all. Don't overlook your kids' old graphing calculators, video games and movies either. Go to gazelle.com and find your items in the Gazelle online catalog that currently includes around 250,000 products.
After answering a few questions about wear and tear, personalization and available accessories, you'll get a cash offer. Click "Add to box" and if you have more than one item to sell click on keep "packing." Once you've finished, you will be able to print out a summary of the offers and a shipping label. Transactions with a value of at least $1 qualify for free USPS, UPS or FedEx.
Once received at the Gazelle facility in Boston, an inspector checks the condition of each item to confirm it matches the description submitted and erases any personal data that may still be stored on the device. After the shipment has been verified, you'll receive an email and your payment will be sent.
The entire process — from receipt to check-in-your-hand — usually takes about a week.
At this time, Gazelle does not accept televisions, printers, fax machines or old-type CRT monitors. But the site does provide a list of state recycling program locations along with Office Depot locations that accept these items for recycling.
How to get an iPad for less
iPad 2 tablets were released on March 11, and while 70 percent of buyers were first-time iPad purchasers, nearly a third traded in their year-old iPads for a new model, according to a Piper Jaffray survey. Those buyers could have raked in as much as $375 for their old iPad from Gazelle.
While the trade-in value of the original iPad today is less than it was several weeks ago, those looking to buy an iPad 2 could still receive a sizeable chunk of cash toward their purchase. Today, Gazelle is offering $220 for a 16 GB Wi-Fi-only iPad in perfect condition and $80 for the same model in poor condition, meaning "functional or physical problems that prevent use."
iPads can also serve nicely as dedicated e-readers , and boast a display size that's significantly larger, boasting nearly 10 inches as opposed to a typical e-reader's six inches. An Amazon Kindle 3 3G in perfect condition can net you $75; a Barnes & Noble 3G Nook is good for $57. (As a side note, Kindles have a better resale value than the Nook on Gazelle at 40 percent of their retail price of $189 compared with 29 percent for the $199 Nook.)
Apple seller strategy
If you're going to replace an Apple device with a new model, keep in mind that, Apple has historically released new models of product types at the same time each year: iPad in March, iPhone in June and iPod in September. Computer announcements, on the hand, are sporadic. But in general, new models have been announced in January and may receive updates between the months of February and June, and sometimes a second update is released in October.
To get a higher price, trade in your about-to-be-outdated version as close to the release of the new version as possible. Plan ahead and you stand to make as much as 70 percent more on your transaction.
Even if you intend to purchase another brand or a device altogether and have an Apple device to sell, keep the schedule in mind to get the best offer from Gazelle.
If you're a buyer
If you're in the market for a new computer or other piece of hardware, consider buying used. Find the current or soon-to-be-released model of the item you're looking to buy, and then search for the previous model to find the best value. Gazelle sells its tested, reclaimed electronics on eBay. Go to the Gazelle store on eBay for a current listing of available products.
If you have a MacBook in mind, the timing is good. The current operating system, 10.6 Snow Leopard, is set to be replaced by a new version, 10.7 Lion, sometime "this summer," according to an Apple statement. When Lion drops, that's the time to buy a used model.
So how much cash did you find in the form of abandoned gadgets in drawers, closets or boxes in the garage? Write and tell me.
This story appeared in newspapers across the country in TopTenREVIEWS weekly tech column. Have a question? Email Leslie Meredith at email@example.com.
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