Consumer electronics is a hot topic when it comes to a discussion about efficient ownership. At one extreme, most electronics are commodities - distinguishable (or comparable) by their unique model numbers or SKUs. This makes them relatively fungible and easy to trade online. Computers are the exception as they can be highly customized, making their model numbers less significant and their trading more complicated.
Countering the ease of trade in electronics is the steep depreciation curve that exists across the category. Products are introduced more and more frequently these days, putting significant price pressure on the older models. As I explain in FutureShop, the key to leveraging the auction culture when it comes to electronics is to time the sale and replacement of your goods around the “sweet spot” between when a new model is released and when the prior model is still considered current. Swapping models during that period generally provides the greatest net value and is a good way to own rapidly evolving electronic products that you frequently use (like a cell phone, pda, or pocket digital camera).
Recently, several consumer electronics companies have introduced programs to further facilitate this concept.
CompUSA, one of the nation’s largest computer retailers just introduced a program where you can trade in products you purchased from them for new goods in the store. It’s called “Easy to eBay” and they sell the goods for you on eBay, giving you the choice of either store credit or cash in return. Sony just introduced a trade-in program for your camcorder. Here is an excerpt from their website regarding the program:
The Sony Style Camcorder Trade-Up Program
“Now you can trade in that old camcorder, help the environment, and receive Sony credit. Use the credit for a brand new Sony camcorder purchased online at SonyStyle.com. Click on ‘Get Started Now’ to complete the online estimator and get your estimated trade-up value.”
Watch for more electronics manufacturers and retailers to introduce similar programs as consumers come to expect this type of service as a key part of their shopping experience.
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