Archive for April, 2012


Enhance Brand Image Through Maximized Product Value

Extending the life of any product increases its value, and imprints in the mind of the purchaser the quality of the merchandise. It not only saves the consumer money in purchases, it increases the value of the company through return customers, customer referrals and positive feedback.

The more value the customer receives the more confidence they will have in your company and all your other products. This enhances your brand name as well as your corporate reputation – and as we all know businesses are built or destroyed on their public sentiment.

Most consumers are creatures of habit. They will return to businesses they trust for replacements as well as additional purchases, even if they have to pay a little more for the items. When the customer is satisfied, they will spread the word, which increases business two-fold – from return customers and referrals. This is how companies like Sears, for example, have been able to stay in business for so many years.

In this age of technology there are more and more brands popping up. Many of which we have not yet heard of today will become big name brands tomorrow. Many more will disappear without making a dent in the marketplace. Too many larger companies have gone belly-up in recent years because they failed to make changes with the times, or simply lessened the value of their merchandise or services. There are no guarantees in this world, and consumers can be fickle if they find products or services that provide more value for their money.

What can a business do to increase their product value?

If you are a wholesale or retail business, one of the first things that need to be addressed is how you handle a customer complaint or return of defective merchandise. Do you listen to the consumers and address their issues, or do you simply give them their money back?

No customer likes to return merchandise because it is defective. It takes time out of their day, and they usually walk away with a bad taste in their mouths from the experience, even if they deal with excellent and upbeat customer service representatives.

A customer will walk away happier if they get a new replacement item at no additional charge – certainly it is expected if the merchandise is under warranty or within a short time of purchase. You will have saved the customer’s opinion of your business, even if they are disgruntled at the manufacturer. In that event you can recoup your loss by returning the product to the manufacturer.

But what if the merchandise is out of warranty, been discontinued, or past your policy for returns? What options can you offer your consumer in that event?

Make sure you have a policy or process in place that will benefit you and the consumer. By aligning yourself with a reputable business that concentrates on providing quality repairs, restoration or remanufacturing of products you can offer your customer the option of having the product repaired for a small charge, or offer them a replacement of the item that has been restored or remanufactured – at a fraction of the charge of the original item again.

It would also be to your benefit, as a retail or wholesale outlet, to have a section exclusively designated for consumers to purchase recycled items.

Best Buy has made significant increases in their business by introducing the “Geek Squad,” and as with all good ideas, other big companies have followed suit. If your consumer is satisfied, and you are able to restore your reputation by extending the life of the product and the services you can offer, all sides will be happy and you will have a win-win situation.

Educating Consumers on End-of-Life Product Value

Concerted efforts are being made by environmentalist and government regulations for consumers to return their old or damaged items to the store of origin, or to outside outlets for them to be handled in an environmentally friendly way. Many stores encourage their customers to bring their old, unused electronic items, such as cell phones, computers, monitors, televisions, etc. back to their store. Some even offer discount coupons for new merchandise.

What happens to these end-of-life (EOL) products?

Often items that have been returned still have some life left in them – although you may find the life as it exist now may no longer be viable. This means the item may possibly be repaired, refurbished or remanufactured and then able to be resold, or it can stripped of minerals and hardware inside to be used in other products. Extending the life of an item involves different options, but will all add value to your company’s bottom line.

Some stores have an agreement with the manufacturer, or an outsourced resource recovery business, to handle all of these EOL items. Some have in-house resources in place to take care of this process.

After the product is distributed to its temporary home it is triaged, where it is evaluated as to the best course of action to take in order to get the best use of the product. It will be researched as to whether it is best to repair it, refurbish it, or if it is possible to bring it back to manufacturers specifications. If none of these options are workable, the product is then taken disassembled and all parts are cleaned and evaluated for workability.

Working or repairable parts will be set aside for use in other products.  All minerals will be salvaged, where they will be melted down for reuse.

Each of these areas will bring renewed life for the product, and profit for the business. In the past items that were returned were often simply thrown away. By changing your returns process your business will make money by the product being returned to the shelf, even at a discounted price, or by reselling to another outlet.

An essential part of this equation is to motivate consumers to bring the items back to be recycled. “The ultimate goal is to create a cyclical manufacturing system that is sustainable but also profitable,” says a Virginia Tech research team analyzing the value of product recovery on business and the environment.1

In addition, consumers need to be educated on the environmental impacts of recycling their old, unused or damaged electronics. In this economy consumers should also be educated on the financial benefits of purchasing products that have been refurbished. Everyone is seeking ways to save a dollar – businesses and consumers alike. By processing and purchasing recycled products businesses and consumers alike will save money, and the planet.