What Gumtree’s stats say about buying/selling smartphones in SA

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With lockdown set to continue for some time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africans have been looking to sell their old or discarded tech as a means of having some additional income in these uncertain times. Smartphones in particular are hot ticket items when it comes to purchasing or selling secondhand tech.

According to Gumtree‘s brand marketing manager, Estelle Nagel, it is also a segment where resellers stand to benefit quite a bit. Earlier this month, the online platform noted that an estimated R1 billion stands to be made from selling all the mobile devices on its site.

“Our research into phone pricing on Gumtree showed that that R4 500 is the median value for a listing. Multiply this by the current number of live smartphone listings reveals a figure just shy of R60m, suggesting that South Africans are sitting on an estimated R940m worth of listable, sellable, pre-loved handsets,” Nagel explains.

“Many people upgrade their smartphones if on contract, or buy a new one to keep up with the latest technology or to get the most updated phone features. While some might give their perfectly decent old phone away, there are a lot who don’t do anything with them. There is a lucrative second hand phone market, so we advise you try and sell them instead,” she adds.

Clear favourites

With that in mind we reached out to the marketing manager to find out what other trends for selling and buying smartphones online Gumtree had, as well as a few tips and tricks for those wanting to get rid of or purchase a secondhand device.

In terms of the brands that have proved most popular, unsurprisingly the platform highlights two companies that have dominated the space for the past decade – Apple and Samsung. These two are followed quite some distance by Huawei in third.

The current breakdown on Gumtree is Samsung  with 4 438 phones listed, Apple at 4 377 iPhones and Huawei with 2 377 devices, according to Nagel.

As for newly introduced brands, such as Nokia Mobile, it seems like nostalgia has not played much of a factor, with 194 phones listed.

That said, consumers holding onto their newly purchased smartphones could also be a factor, given how recent the brand’s re-entry into the market is. Added to this is the fact that it specialises in the entry-level to mid-range space, which could mean there is very little resale value to be had.

As for the devices which are in high demand, again unsurprisingly recent flagship phones from Apple and Samsung are getting plenty of search hits on Gumtree.

“(Apple) iPhone 11X and 11X Pro as well as Samsung Galaxy S20 are three of the most popular models we currently see listed on Gumtree,” Nagel points out.

Due diligence

For those wanting to get decent offers for their secondhand devices, the marketing manager says presentation is key.

“We recommend the mix of best of breed photography of the product, and a professionally written description, while being transparent about the quality and state of the handset. You can also use our price checkers to come up with the best price,” she says.

“Be honest about any dents or scratches or you may compromise your sale,” adds Nagel. 

Some sound advice there, and if you’re struggling when it comes to a winning description, Nagel advises the following.

“With thousands of competing products on Gumtree, you need to think of yourself as a marketer when posting your product. How is your listing able to stand out from the crowd of iPhones or Galaxies? Think about a quirky headline or offering a price that is better than a competitor listing to pop out when a potential customer is scrolling through their desktop browser or app,” Nagel stresses.

Looking at the other end of the transaction, the Gumtree exec highlights one element in particular for those not wishing to get scammed online.

“The most common scam involves asking for deposits or payments while avoiding showing you the item, or coming up with excuses as to why they can’t meet. Your best defence is to never hand cash over until you’ve seen, tested and examined the item,” says Nagel.

She also highlights the importance of thoroughly testing the device before purchasing or handing over any kind of money, especially as there is very little that Gumtree or other platforms can do in the event of a scam.

“Secondhand items are not protected by the CPA and therefore buyers have no recourse other than pleading their case with the seller. Test your items carefully – turn it on, insert your SIM, test the charger, examine the device for scratches, dents and very importantly: ask questions,” she advises.

Get online

With lockdown, remote working and social distancing still here for the foreseeable future, Nagel believes online platforms like Gumtree will prove pivotal for resellers or those wanting to get their hands on cheaper smartphones.

“Despite social distancing and restrictions, in general it has been easier to sell items on Gumtree than ever before. For the first time in a long time, demand is outstripping supply in our electronics and Home and Garden categories – so it’s never been a better time to declutter and sell,” she concludes.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.