How to source mobile device parts for a repair business
If you go online and search for phone parts there is a myriad of choices to choose from. The choices are unlimited and they can come from odd places from Canada, China to Africa. Which parts do you choose and which company is the most reliable at the best price? I recently bought parts for my sons Nintendo 3DS from the internet. The parts came from Japan, they were knockoffs, and were very reasonably priced. The company had good reviews so I thought I would give them a try. I followed a video on YouTube and replaced the right, left and circle buttons on his 3DS. To my surprise the parts worked perfect. His 3DS is working as well as it did when it was new and my son is happy he can play his games again.
It seems every time I look on the internet there is a new way to buy phones or parts. Swappa is a website that sells parts it looks similar to eBay or Craig’s list but is just for all things mobile including broken phones, flashed phones, parts and accessories it has a bone yard that you buy or sell your parts from. iReTron was founded by a 15 year old who buys cell phones and electronics and sells them on the internet. His pitch is green for the world green for your wallet so you will sell his company your used phones so it can be refurbished and resold. The company was even on Shark Tank. With the right advertising who knows how well your Mobile repair shop could do.
Before you buy your parts there are a few things you should do:
- If you are searching the web for parts see what other customers have to say about the company. Read the companies reviews and get the scoop from the other consumers comments. You can search the company’s official website and see what other people are saying about them also check on Social networking sites like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. The Better business bureau (BBB) has a great listing of companies even if they are not a BBB accredited business the companies may have an excellent rating. They have many comments written by consumers especially if there are complaints with the company. Some of the bigger companies have a rating of A+ which is the best score. You can search by your demographic area or just search a company’s name.
- Make sure the parts have a warranty. If the company is legitimate they will have some sort of guarantee for their product. If the part does not have a warranty you may be stuck with a product that is less satisfactory or it may not work at all.
- Search for genuine parts vs compatible parts. If the company is reputable they will tell you where there parts come from and if they are authentic or if they are counterfeit parts. Some of the companies use counterfeit parts but these parts may work just as well as the original parts. Once again you will have to do your homework on the sites reputation.
- Buyer beware!There are many used parts you can purchase on sites like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist but be careful of these sites. They may not guarantee the product and the parts may be stripped from stolen phones. I have heard stories of how people have found their stolen electronics on sites like these being sold for half the original price. If you see the phone is locked or bricked that usually means it was stolen or you are unable to use the phone other for parts.
- You may want to buy used phones and strip the parts you need. You can always recycle the rest of the phone. This may save you money in long run. You can ask friends and family for old phones. One of my friends gave me a old iPhone 5 she had laying around the house for my daughter and it worked perfectly fine. Your friends may sell you their old phones at a cheap price. One of my co-workers sold me a very slightly used iPad for a very cheap price. You could advertise on a social networking site like Facebook that you are looking for used phones for cheap and you will probably be surprised at what is laying around people’s houses that they will be happy to sell you. Doing this you can try to scrape together as many parts as you can to start your business for a small percentage of what it would have cost you for new parts.
- You could partner with another business or store if you have a repair and need a part you could call another local business and see if they have the part you need and if they need a part they could come to you. When I went to activate a cracked phone at a local phone company the salesperson told me his friend has a shop down the street and he could repair my phone for me.
- Some companies may sell parts for the phones that they carry and have in stock. Best buy sells some phone parts for the phones they have in stock like Blackberry, Motorola, Sony LG, Nokia and Samsung and these parts are available on their website. If it is a common part such as a battery or the LCD screen it may be easier for you to get the part from the manufacturer itself. I can search the HP websites for my laptops parts all I need to do is put in the model number and I can obtain them. If you go on to some of the manufacturer’s website like Samsung and Motorola and put in the model number it will give you a list of parts available. Unfortunately, Apple does not supply just anyone their parts. They only supply parts to certified Apple repair shops and all repairs covered under warranty must be performed by a Apple certified technicians.
- Make sure you are buying the correct part for the phone. I once bought the glass screen for an iPhone 5 and figured out that I needed the whole iPhone LCD Digitizer Screen Assembly. When I took apart the cracked screen (the glass was really cracked) the whole front of the phone fell apart I soon realized that the glass was completely useless without the frame and now I have to purchase the correct part for the phone. Make sure you are getting the part you searched for also. I searched for a sound module for an iPhone and some sites showed me a speaker earpiece module which is not at all what I needed.
If you are looking for parts for your business there are several things to consider:
- How much of the product do you need in stock. Do you want to buy in bulk or just have a few on hand. If you are just starting out it is probably wise to start with just a few items and as you grow you may want to have more product in your inventory.
- If you find a reliable source you may want to establish a business relationship with this person or company. Some people get parts from one dealer others use several dealers depending on what parts are needed and the prices that are offered. You may not be able to find all the parts you need from one vendor and will need to search for other options.
- Make sure the part does not cost more than the repair. Some repair technicians charge a flat rate for some phone repairs. Make sure you are compensated for your repair work plus the price of the part. It is easy to lose money by trying to compete with other dealers and lowering your price too low.
- When searching for phone parts be specific and narrow your search to the one item. An example is if you need a rear facing main camera phone part for Motorola make sure you search for it exactly this way and not just cell phone camera part. You will get a better match searching this way and it will be easier to find the part you need. If you search “Genuine” phone parts you have a better chance of finding the original part that you need. I put in my search box “New” and the parts that popped up were knockoff parts and were from an unknown countries or companies. I also found that the parts really varied in price.make sure you are getting the correct part you searched for. I looked for a sound module for an iPhone and some sites showed me a Speaker earpiece module which is not at all what I needed.
- Some people that have an authorized Apple repair center can buy the parts from apple and often sell them to the public. They sometimes strip down the iPhone’s and sell the parts. If you look on eBay you can find all sorts of phone parts that the sellers claim to be original parts. They may be used parts that have been stripped down from an apple phone.
- Some companies sell knock off parts. Some try to sell them as the phone’s original parts but they may not be genuine. The parts may work just as well as the original parts but are counterfeit. If you google phone parts from China numerous dealers pop up selling the fake parts. They usually look exactly like the authentic parts and most people would not know the difference. I didn’t realize how hard it was to find genuine parts for a phone until I started doing one of my projects for school. I found that ifixit, Amazon, and Ebay always had the parts I needed but once again they may not have always been original parts.
- Compare shop and see who will give you the best deal for the best price and quality. Some of the parts are completely overpriced. I was looking for the screen on line and I found the correct part from about priced from $29.00 to an unreasonable price of $519.00 and I could buy a new phone for a few dollars more. When I tried to get a part from UbreakitIfixit.com they do not just sell their parts. The charge was 109.99 for a iPhone 5S Glass and LCD replacement. When I searched on Ifixit site the part was available for 59.95 for the iPhone 5S LCD Screen and Digitizer. The part was new and it had a warranty. There was different prices depending on what was included. Some had the camera and home button included others contained more accessories.
- There are a few local phone repair stores that buy used phones for repair parts. You can always advertise that you are looking to buy used cell phone and use them for parts so you can start up your business. Some of these repair centers seem to be doing very well as they have several stores popping up in the Milwaukee area.
Make sure you are inquisitive and do some research to get the best part for the best price. Ask around and see what is available from friends, family, perhaps even recycling centers or resale shops may have some parts or old phones you could use. Learn from other people’s mistakes and successes by reading about what other people have to say about their experiences with their repairs. So whatever your endeavors will be perhaps starting your own business, contracting your services out, or just doing repairs for friends and family you now have some options on how to get your business started.