Flipkart, one of India’s top two online shopping websites, said it has started buying back used mobile phones from users in return for vouchers that can be used to buy any electronics items from the website.
The ‘Sell Back’ program will be applicable to items purchased from anywhere in India, and will be expanded to other electronics items later this year.
Unlike other ‘second-hand’ platforms such as OLX, a customer does not have to negotiate with sellers, and only has to deal with Flipkart, which will immediately credit the cash voucher, even before the item is sold.
Under the new scheme — available in most big and medium-sized towns in India — the customer can click on the ‘Sell Back’ button on the bottom panel of the Flipkart app.
“Customers can assess the value of the used mobile phone by answering three simple questions. Post customer confirmation, a Flipkart executive will pick up the product from their doorstep within 48 hours,” the company, a unit of US-based Wal Mart, said.
Once the item is received at the Flipkart processing center, it will issue the cash voucher equivalent to the purchase value within a few hours.
It is not clear if the program will include non-working mobile phones, and devices with damages such as cracked screen and so on.
Flipkart is introducing the new scheme as per plans announced at the time it acquired Yaantra, a used electronics seller.
Flipkart said the move will help Indians gain greater access to affordable refurbished smartphones, and providing a comprehensive service ecosystem to customers.
It is estimated that around 125 million used phones are available in India, of which only 20 million reach the market, with the remaining lying unused and neglected at their owners’ premises.
“This amounts to tremendous e-waste and needs to be solved for, on priority. Flipkart’s Sell Back Programme addresses this challenge as it gives customers easy and simple means to sell their old devices and use the earnings to purchase any product of their choice on Flipkart,” the company said.
The key challenge to buying used mobile phones and other electronic items in India has been a lack of assurance of quality and a lack of warranty.
It was no immediately clear whether Flipkart would offer warranty on these refurbished items.
The second challenge has been the lack of trustworthy of repair centers. A large portion of electronic repair centers cheat their customers, either by claiming more damage than exists, by over charging or by removing valuable components from inside the device before returning it to the customer.
“With Flipkart’s Sell Back Programme, we aim to help organise this market. As the Indian consumer electronics industry witnesses rapid growth, this programme will further our efforts towards reducing the generation of e-waste – which is a crucial step in creating a sustainable economy,” the company said.