February 26, 2024

Lessons From Our Global Customers

Chad Gottesman
Three themes emerged from conversations with Apkudo customers. Change is needed and desired.

What is the world going to do with all the e-waste we generate each year? The statistics are concerning. According to “The World Counts,” around 50 million tons of electronic waste are created every year. That’s like throwing away 1,000 laptops every second. E-waste comprises 70% of the world’s toxic waste, but only 12% is recycled. Most of it ends up being sent to landfills and incinerators, releasing harmful toxins into the air.

It's time to change how our industry operates when it comes to dealing with secondary electronic devices. We must think bigger, differently, and in a more integrated way. We can’t keep solving for single, disparate programs and transactions along the supply chain.

Our customers agree. As I traveled last year to speak to clients in Japan, India, Europe, the Middle East, and the US about their challenges in trying to take advantage of the circular economy—where the concepts of recycle, repair, and reuse dominate—several key themes emerged:

1. Interconnectedness of the supply chain

I am hearing a loud call for much greater sophistication within organizations and across their supply chains for handling secondary devices. For example, retail trade-in programs need tighter integration and shared data with the warehouses that receive the device and perform the testing. Many companies need help with simply matching inventory shipped from the store to what arrives at the warehouse. The dependence on spreadsheets and email is still far too prominent.

Inter-company connectivity has to improve across the entire supply chain—repair vendors and refurbisher partners, insurers and 3PLs, as well as the marketplaces and traders tracking device status and exposing inventory. Having visibility into device status and supply and demand can accelerate the movement of devices and the overall process. This is partly a matter of having the technology in place for device visibility, providing the insights that enable faster and better decision-making and that support the continuous drive to improve performance, operations, and impact. The power of shared data across the supply chain is the control mechanism our customers seek now.

2. Digitization of the warehouse

This point follows directly from the previous one. In order to enable interconnectedness, our customers must cost-effectively and accurately obtain the ground truth about each and every device that flows through any process– historically a disjointed and labor-intensive process. A common theme that emerged from my travels is that labor costs are rising and it’s more and more difficult to attract and retain the labor that’s needed in the warehouse. This issue is exacerbated by seasonal or program-driven volume spikes. Furthermore, there is shared concern about the reliability and consistency of human testing and grading and the downstream effects of inconsistent grading. Lastly, our customers expressed the need for increased velocity from “dock to dock”--  the speed at which devices can move into and out of facilities. Getting their inventory tested, graded, and refurbed faster for resale accelerates time to value. Inventory sitting in a warehouse costs them money because the value of secondary devices decreases over time. Digitization of the warehouse cost-effectively solves all of these problems.

3. The rising impact of circularity

I’m seeing a notable increase in the number of companies stepping up their investments in sustainability and circularity. We are seeing business decisions being impacted like we haven't in the past. And the progress is no longer limited to Europe as we’ve previously experienced. I’m hearing about this from our customers around the globe. OEMs are one example of industry players making ambitious and bold circularity goals. Consider a recent report from Dell announcing that, by 2030, every metric ton of products a customer buys will be offset by a metric ton that will be reused or recycled.

Apkudo answers

We believe we can ignite change across the industry and in turn change the world. One of the ways that we help eliminate new e-waste is by providing a cost-effective, automated way for companies to triage, clean, test, and grade connected devices on a large scale. This has traditionally been a labor-intensive process, one that many organizations failed to make affordable, let alone lucrative—until now.

We’re excited about how the Apkudo Circular Industry Platform addresses industry challenges and opportunities. It replaces inefficient labor and disjointed legacy systems with a purpose-built integrated solution including robotics, software, and market connections.

Apkudo connects all stakeholders and allows them to automate their business processes, achieving optimal outcomes for the devices that move through the supply chain.

We’re obsessed with helping companies answer a simple question: “What should I do with this device right now?” By helping companies answer that question better, we can help them both maximize profit and reduce e-waste around the world.

Join us on the journey to connect transactions, programs, processes, and ecosystem players across the device lifecycle. Apkudo commits to discussing, educating, and helping customers transform ways of working to contribute to a circular economy where devices find second, and maybe third lives until disposition. Do you have a topic you want us to explore? If so, send me your ideas.