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University of Leeds Explores the Benefits and Barriers to Refurbished IT

Astrid Wynne, Sustainability Lead Jun 24, 2020

Part of Techbuyer’s support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are three targets set against Quality Education. By 2025, we aim to achieve £8 million in savings for educational institutions, contribute 5,000 hours to the education of young people about sustainable business practice and donate 100,000 kilos of technology to education bodies around the world. However, our relationship with the education sector runs deeper than that. Charged with research and great drive to further understanding, universities are a great resource for us as a growing business.

In July and August 2019, Techbuyer hosted an MSc project carried out by Shu Li, a post graduate student at the University of Leeds Business school under the supervision of Associate Professor Dr Jyoti Mishra. The scope was “Advantages and Barriers to the use of refurb within the education sector”. It unearthed some useful insights into the disconnect between our environmental commitment and the reasons many customers choose refurbished product. These are the key takeaways from the project:

Customers are not buying the same as we’re selling

A commitment to sustainable solutions in the IT sector is one of our core aims at Techbuyer. However, many customers buy refurbished products because of the business case; price, performance and availability. Environmental concerns are in the mix but not the most important factor.

Refurbished product offers more choice in systems design

Another reason people buy refurb is because they can access products that may no longer be available from the original supplier, which means they can prolong the life of their systems without the expense of a full refresh.

Refurb is low-cost but suppliers should not be

Interestingly, though, once a customer has made the decision to go with refurbished product, they will not choose the cheapest option but rather go for a quality supplier. Our experience here at Techbuyer supports this. Our commitment to continuous improvement and having our systems audited by the best certification bodies in the business has driven growth and success over the years. Supplying a three year warranty is a further guarantee.

People choose not to buy refurbished product for the same reasons they do

Customers that would not consider refurbished equipment most frequently state cost as the reason. The perception is that higher cost means more reliability and a better quality item. Failure rate, risk and reliability are also frequently mentioned by those surveyed. However, our RMA rate on failed equipment is lower than that of a manufacturer. Customers also mention warranty as a barrier, something that our publicity already answers. A desire to maximise the lifespan of existing systems is also seen to be important. However, as stated above, refurbished components actually help with that.  

Quality indicators that are important

The most frequently mentioned reasons customers trust refurbished products are reliability and manufacturer comparable warranty. Confidence is further increased by products being tested, having a low failure rate and ISO certification. In addition, the size of the company (and hence stock levels), after-sales service and other customers’ feedback.

The more product lines and higher quantities of stock Techbuyer keeps in its inventory, the more flexibility customers have in their buying choices, which is an added benefit from their point of view. Our fast express delivery business adds to this flexibility.

A final point the research touched on was the part procurement plays in the adoption of refurbished product. In organisations where the IT manager has a direct influence on the buying process, the choice of refurbished product is an easier one to make. However, in complex organisations this is less straightforward. Hopefully we will be able to assist on longer and more in-depth research on this in the future. Watch this space for news!

 


Techbuyer is an example of a circular business model. After buying used IT equipment from businesses, universities and organisations, we remanufacture equipment into high quality IT solutions. This reduces e-waste, makes use of existing technology, and provides secure hardware for businesses at a lower cost. We provide a range of solutions including Configure-to-Order servers, which you can view here.

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