Edition 110, September 2020

A One-Stop Solution for Monetizing Returns and Overstock

By Justin Goldman, KEH Camera

Retailers and manufacturers of camera equipment are faced with the issue of what to do with bulk returns, overstock, and outdated inventory—specialized re-commerce companies offer a solution that can turn headaches into cash.

Keep The Good Going

Ideally, big box retailers would be able to move their returns and overstock items to someone who can process, refurbish, repair, and remarket products at scale—and keep coming back for more—but that’s usually not the case. That is, unless these products can be moved to a specialized re-commerce company who has the experience, the capacity, and the reach to thrive within their industry.

In the world of cameras, lenses and photography, for example, KEH Camera is a prime case of a re-commerce company who’s a key link in the reverse logistics chain, offering an easy solution for retailers and manufacturers who deal in large quantities of photo/video gear returns, overstock and outdated inventory. We cover all the bases—knowing the camera industry, owning the channels, and maintaining a sizable and devoted customer base to make it all feasible.

The State Of The Camera Industry

After decades of relative stability, the camera industry is in the midst of a major realignment. Since 2010, digital camera sales have dropped by a whopping 84%. The major cause of this is evident—increasingly capable smartphones have made point-and-shoot and entry-level cameras practically irrelevant, and as a result, manufacturers have aimed their efforts on advanced, mid-to-high-end products to win over photography professionals and enthusiasts alike.

This renewed focus has led to an innovation race between the manufacturers, led by industry veterans, Canon and Nikon, and a relative newcomer in Sony. Because of this arms race, shorter product life-cycles are becoming the norm, product lines are getting narrower, and all the while, customers have grown more demanding of high-end, specialized equipment to keep up with their specific needs.

All these factors have created a perfect storm for retailers, as they’ve had to deal with inventory becoming outdated at a much faster rate than ever before, and they’ve had to accept more returns as customers’ expectations grow more whimsical. Repairing and refurbishing this type of gear has also become increasingly difficult, and there are fewer qualified technicians capable of doing so.

How Does Re-Commerce Make Reverse Logistics Work?

Even for re-commerce companies who have been in business for decades, the issue has always been with being able to acquire enough product through individual purchases to maintain good inventory levels. This has always been a challenge, and there’s never enough to keep up with demand. That’s where discovering and joining the Reverse Logistics Association has proven to be a critical game-changer for us.

Through a partnership established at an RLA Conference, we have been able to acquire camera gear through bulk purchases from Belmont Trading—a global leader in wireless and consumer electronics reverse logistics, trade-in and remarketing—bolstering the selection of products that can be offered to customers.

“KEH has proven a valued and dependable business partner from the start—they are a best-in-class example of how re-commerce is vital in the chain of reverse logistics”, says Belmont Trading US Director of Business Development, Bob Killinski. He continues, “They are uniquely positioned to expand product value by providing unmatched service, knowledge and experience in the photographic industry, all the while promoting a genuine message of circularity and community.”

Commitment To Circularity As A Plan For Growth

Longer gear lifecycles serve more and cost less—for customers and the environment alike. This commitment to circularity can’t just be lip service, it has to be backed by decades of work like we put in—developing processes for renewal and preservation, while setting new standards for quality. It’s all in a mission to bring the best of the past into the present.

This mission requires a steady supply of camera gear, so that’s why re-commerce companies should make full use of membership in the RLA to strengthen current relationships with retailers and manufacturers while exploring new partnership opportunities as they arise.

The ability to collect and recirculate camera equipment has positioned us not only as a reliable purchaser of gear, but also as a possible resource for retailers who seek outmoded merchandise to market outside the US.

Where Everything Clicks

By offering an all-in-one solution, re-commerce companies help big box retailers and manufacturers monetize their returns, overstock and out-of-date inventory, promoting a sustainable process of circularity and ensuring that every touchpoint is seamless for partners and customers alike.

About KEH

The original camera re-commerce company, KEH has always envisioned a better way to support the passion and profession of photography. Serving the camera community since 1979, KEH has become the largest curated market for field-tested (read as “used”), expert-graded photo and video equipment in the industry.

KEH is made up of camera people—photographers and videographers, collectors and crafters, and that’s been the key to success. The conventional notion that gear goes further in the hands of KEH is very much a reflection of over 40 years of experience leading the industry.

Justin Goldman
Justin Goldman is KEH’s Director of Purchasing, currently in his fifth year with the company. He runs multiple purchasing channels—from big box retailers, to original equipment manufacturers, international purchasing, the KEH road purchasing team, and the new virtual buying experience program. Before his role at KEH, he spent fifteen years in the mobility world as a territory rep for wireless companies, as well as a small business owner and a full-time traveling musician. Justin believes in teamwork to achieve success. To reach Justin Goldman, email him at jgoldman@keh.com.