A few trends in the world of buy/sell/trade that I think will be worth keeping an eye on this year:
First is Best Buy’s continued expansion of their Trade-In program. Until recently, GameStop has been the only major player in this business model — and even then, only for video game software and hardware. Best Buy launched a video game trade in program in August 2010. Around the same time, we at Entertainmart began expanding and creating electronics sections inside of our big box stores. Think of a Best Buy-like retail store for used and refurbished electronics where you can also sell back your used electronics for cash. (Creating the electronics section in Colorado Springs was what gave me the opportunity to move back to Denver last August). Bestbuytradein.com now lets you sell back your old electronics so it appears that they are expanding the concept beyond just video games as well. Their online trade-in estimator asks you a few questions about your item, and gives you a quote for a Best Buy gift card or a lesser straight cash value. You can then either ship the item to them or bring it into a participating store. For every item I tested with the estimator, Entertainmart’s cash buy-back value was at least 2x their offer. As only a $30 million company, we think that there is a market opening here that can offer us a lot of growth. It will be interesting to watch Best Buy’s progress.
Secondly, I am continuing to watch the legal battles of digital media rights. As books have recently gone the way of iTunes thanks to Kindle and with movies soon to follow, this will be an important issue for used retailers. A recent Supreme Court decision ruled that the only way to resell used ebooks would be to sell your whole hard drive. See the Fortune Tech article “Would you sell your kindle to sell your used book?” Currently, a physical book, cd, or dvd retains value for a consumer because you can always re-sell it to anyone you want who is willing to pay for it. It is interesting to note that Amazon appears to be a proponent of the court ruling because their own Kindle user agreement states that you can not resell “used” digital books. Amazon reached the success that they have today by being a marketplace that connects sellers of used goods, mainly books, with buyers. Yet somewhere they changed their mind about the re-selling of digital media. It seems to me that there is an untapped marketplace for the buying and selling of digital media just as Amazon created for physical media. Say you didn’t like the latest book you purchased on your Kindle. You could list the book for sale on Amazon and if someone chooses to download it from you, the Kindle software would automatically de-authorize or delete your copy. Maybe they are catching on however because they did recenlty enable kindle book lending.
UPDATE 1/05: Good timing of this post. Best Buy’s in store Buy-Back program to launch today.