Indian startups dealing in refurbished electronics are planning to foray overseas to sell used smartphones and capitalize on potential demand in those markets.
Gurugram-based Cashify said it is exploring the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and some parts of Europe with plans to start overseas operations next year.
Similarly, Kolkata-based HyperXchange said it is looking to begin operations in some of the markets in the Middle East and Africa as early as this year.
“The Middle East is in our short-term plans. And we are in advanced discussions on a distribution partnership across Africa,” said Dipanjan Purkayastha, co-founder and chief executive, HyperXchange.
“The Middle East will happen this year and so will South Africa,” he said adding that the former will be handled directly by the company while the latter will be in partnership with local firms.
“We are doing a deep dive into markets that are similar to India and where we can potentially create some kind of impact,” said Nakul Kumar, co-founder, and chief marketing officer of Cashify.
Kumar noted that the core population in the Middle East is primarily immigrants, which means “we can make a major impact there,” he added.
“Africa is a way to mirror the Indian story in different geography. Dubai is relevant as the hub for global refurbished trade for products as well as spares,” said Purkayastha.
The global refurbished smartphone market is growing at a quicker pace than the new phone market, which has been impacted even more by a slowdown in demand.
According to an April report by Counterpoint Research, global refurbished smartphone volumes grew 15% in 2021 from the previous year while the new smartphone market grew by only 4.5%.
“We are seeing a YoY (year-on-year) increase in volumes among refurb players in developing markets like China, India, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa,” said Glen Cardoza, senior analyst at Counterpoint.
In India, Cashify sold 300,000 refurbished smartphones from January 2021 till date. The company raised $90 million from NewQuest Capital Partners and Prosus in June, and is looking to expand the offline store footprint to 250 across 100 cities, from the current 120 stores. HyperXchange has 350 stores in India.
Growth in India can help these brands in international expansion, said industry experts.
“In a refurbished strategy, markets such as the Middle East and Europe could be very good seller markets while India can be a good feeder market. India now has a history of used phones,” said Faisal Kawoosa, founder and chief analyst at techARC.
Expats in these countries have a higher aspirational value and refurbished units of premium smartphones may do well in that buyer segment, said Kawoosa.
However, shipping refurbished phones from India to other markets may attract some customs duty. Though the quantum of customs duty is not clear, Purkayastha said duty on older phones is usually lower and varies across countries.