|A customer seeks advice to buy a used phone at a Viettel shop in Ha Noi.—VNS file photo
HA NOI (VNS) – The mobile phone market has been one of the victims of Viet Nam's recent economic troubles, but canny companies have found a glimmer of hope amid the gloom by tapping into the rising demand for used phones.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, sales of brand new mobiles have fallen dramatically since last year with customers increasingly short of disposable income.
In contrast, second-hand phones are selling well in the country and shops are now competing to best cater to this growing market.
Accountant Nguyen Minh Tuan, 31, told the Viet Nam News that he recently bought an iPhone 4S for less than VND9 million (US$450) rather than purchasing a new one for more than VND13 million ($650). "The phone is almost totally the same; no one can recognise it as an old one. It means I can have what I want and save millions of dong at the same time," he said.
Many phone stores of different sizes have been trying to attract customers like Tuan by offering both new and old phones.
The Mobile World Company claims to sell 20 used mobiles a day in some of their shops and has even opened a special second-hand phone store in HCM City to meet the demand for cheaper, locally-sourced mobiles. The store's manager, Nguyen Dang Quoc Thai, said that they first started selling used products in 2005 when they observed the potential market.
"The turnover keeps increasing year by year, and now it accounts for 15-20 per cent of the total turnover in the mobile phone sector," he revealed, adding that the company sells about 50,000 used phones each month.
In HCM City, big stores such as Xuan Hong, Vien Thong A and Cho Lon also sell used phones while in Ha Noi they are available almost everywhere. As well as in registered stores, people can also find old phones in flea markets or online.
To be competitive in this market Thai said his customers are given good warranty deals. He claimed that with this incentive and the company's good reputation, shoppers often prefer to shop there than at a market where they might get a cheaper price.
Seeking a used mobile at a flea market is very tricky, according to Minh Tuan. "Sometimes you buy a used phone from someone who just doesn't want to have it any more and it is a perfect deal, however sometimes you are cheated badly buy unknown sellers."
Tuan is happy with the 12 month warranty he has for his used phone, as it is just as long as the warranty for a new one.
So, does this mean the end of the new mobile phone market? Thai does not think so, and believes that with good promotions and advertising phone companies will soon see an upturn in their fortunes. Until then, used phones look set to continue selling in increasing numbers. – VNS