- Brennan Zelener
One of the most common questions we hear from customers is "where can I buy phones?". Well, If you're looking for used phones in bulk, here's a list of resources worth exploring:
Swappa B2B Exchange
Swappa is an online marketplace for gently used technology and it's been around for over ten years now. If you're in the used device industry you've likely heard of Swappa before and possibly used their IMEI Check service. While Swappa's primary marketplace is good for single-item listings, their B2B Exchange marketplace is designed for bulk deals. The Swappa B2B Exchange is our first recommendation because of its clean layout, potential profit display, and transactional tools that help with the offer/ordering process.
When you're ready to sell your bulk inventory, WholeCell's B2B Exchange integration can sync all of your available stock to Swappa automatically.
Cellpex is a wholesale marketplace focused on phones, tablets, wearables, and accessories. It's been around for quite a while, with blog posts on the site dating back to 2005. Sellers can create listings on Cellpex for the products that they have for sale and buyers can send a message to inquire about a listing.
If you sign up for Cellpex you'll want to post your WTS/WTB callouts on their Blog.
Thanks to its tenure on the web Cellpex seems to receive considerable traffic. We're ranking it second because although its interface is dated, Cellpex's pricing on its premium subscription ($49.95/mo billed monthly or $33/mo billed quarterly) is an affordable way to connect with wholesalers who can supply you with inventory to resell.
gsmExchange is a "specialized trading platform for mobile phone distributors, wholesalers and retailers". On the site you'll find listings describing the model and quantities of available inventory from a number of international bulk sellers.
Of the marketplaces we've listed, gsmExchange has the most significant physical presence at annual mobile conferences like CTIA in the USA, CeBIT in Germany, and GITEX in the UAE. If you attend any of these conferences, look for the gsmExchange TradeZone -- typically a block of distributor booths and a networking area for people to connect and hold meetings.
gsmExchange also has a YouTube channel with a collection of interview videos with exhibitors from conferences over the years (Hint: not a bad place to hunt for some distributors!).
Trade-in Tech is a social networking platform designed for electronics wholesalers and resellers. Of our top three, Trade-in Tech is the most socially interactive place to engage in realtime with other resellers. Their Facebook Groups appear to be moderated and active, and you can contact their founder on WhatsApp to join ongoing WhatsApp chats with other resellers.
Facebook Group: Phone Flipping Network
The Phone Flipping Network group on Facebook is a good networking opportunity and resource pool for entry-level phone flippers. This group has a significant amount of daily activity and is run by a member of the community, Alex Trejo. The group won't have the same listing style/format as the marketplaces mentioned, so it may not be where you head to hunt for specific inventory to purchase, but it's a good place to connect with other people in the same industry.
Online trade-in is a competitive and challenging landscape to enter. There are a number of services like FlipTech, Buyback.site, and Buyback.ai that you can use to build a nice modern-looking buyback website, but getting your site online is only half of the battle. Once your website is live you'll need to drive visitors to the site, convert them, and get them to mail their devices to you. These last bits are the true challenges.
Gazelle.com has been the best-known and longest standing online trade-in provider since their launch in 2008. If you want to advertise to potential customers in the USA with pay-per-click ads you'll be bidding against Gazelle and many others for clicks and impressions. In 2015, Gazelle sold to Outerwall (the owner of Redbox, Coinstar, and ecoATM) for a reported $18 million. This would be an exciting exit if Gazelle hadn't raised 'nearly $56 million' throughout its life before the acquisition.
If you're planning to build a buyback website you'd better have a unique way to drive traffic. Otherwise it may be a lot of work for little reward.
Buying people's used devices from a retail location, mall kiosk, or via online local advertising can be the fastest boots-on-the-ground way to get some inventory at good prices. Although some customers will be easy to work with, you'll undoubtedly invest time in other deals that don't come through. Keep track of your conversations and focus on doing more of what works and less of what doesn't.
Try doing creative things that your competitors aren't: look for opportunities to partner with other stores or local organizations who can recommend you to their customers.
Join some Facebook groups like Phone Flipping Network, Phone Flipping Secrets & Strategies, and Phone Flippers United to learn about the latest tips and tricks for scaling your conversations with chat bots and other helpful software.