Skip to content

Trade in your Trade-Up Program

Trade-up programs are becoming increasingly common. Perhaps the most famous trade-up programs are from car dealerships: trading in your older car for a newer model and a car payment is so common as to be ubiquitous. Cell phone companies, recognizing few have the desire or means to buy a new cell phone every other year, have adopted the practice to great success. 

Trade-ups can even be (counterintuitively) a source of customer conversions. However, all of this requires significant infrastructure to manage effectively, and many brands are reluctant to wholeheartedly embrace it. With a trusted reverse logistics partner, brands can streamline the receipt and processing of older inventory being traded in, while still increasing returns revenue on the secondary market. This can be accomplished while still offloading the overhead and logistical hurdles involved.

The benefits of a trade-up program

Trade-up programs make companies sticky. Cell phones are one of the stickiest products on the market today and trade-up programs are a big part of the reason. Customers whose cell has reached the end of its life (or who just want the newer model) are encouraged to trade in their old phones for a credit towards a new one. This keeps them using the same product family (Apple or Android). Furthermore, the item that was turned in can be resold, turning a (for instance) $100 credit into an $800 sale.

Beyond enhancing customer loyalty, this increases revenue by encouraging sales (via incentives), as a boost in sales can be expected when a new model comes out. It also can earn a bit on the back-end through reselling the returned stock. Finally, some trade-up programs are actually a source of new customers. Brands often will issue a small credit for a competitor’s product, which can encourage customers to take the plunge and shift loyalties. 

Offload your trade-up program

Most brands do not need to be sold on the benefits of a trade-up program; those are self-evident, both in terms of revenue and customer benefit. The stumbling block is typically finding the resources to effectively manage the program. However, by engaging with circular partners, like Nok, brands can power and offload their trade-up program without starting it from scratch.

Nok is experienced at helping brands define and execute every stop of the trade-up journey as an extension of the brand. This begins with receiving and reconciling. Nok ensures that what was supposed to be returned is what is actually received, minimizing errors or fraud and ensuring the data inputted reflects reality. 

Once reconciled, each SKU is evaluated according to specific workflows and grading standards established with the brand. Nok’s facilities are specially trained to grade each item with this objective lens, taking subjectivity out of the process. Once graded, the credit for the trade-in can be applied as quickly as the brand prefers. Although the process is complete from the customer view, internally the returned item is sent through disposition channels. The item can either be resold on secondary markets, donated, or stripped for parts and responsibly recycled. The parts can be used for repairs or otherwise handled as the brand sees fit.

The resellable items are fully-managed by Nok, in adherence to brand preferences, restrictions, and primary sales activity to guarantee incremental revenue while avoiding cannibalization.. The brands can choose to allow all channels of recovery or only the ones that fit their specific standards, and Nok will ensure that recovery is executed without cannibalizing primary sales efforts by working with the brand to make sure there is no overlap in exposure and marketing efforts. Therefore, not only is revenue from returns incremental, the brand continues to control and retain its brand integrity on the secondary markets.


Trade-up programs make brands and retailers more sticky and maintain or increase their market share. Although these programs require resources, that can be minimized by partnering with trusted circular partners, like Nok. The end result is a win-win for customers and brands.

Chat with Nok today!

Related Articles

The Power of Data in the Reverse Supply Chain
Leveraging Returns to Acquire New Customers: A Strategic Approach
Safeguarding Brand Integrity in the Secondary Market

Get in Touch

For Media Inquiries:
For Partnership Inquiries: