The Carphone Warehouse Ltd. is a leading, London-based mobile phone retailer, founded in 1998. A division of Dixons Carphone, the company was a pioneer in the mobile phone retail sector—and they recognized early on that there was a market for old, unwanted, and even unused mobile phones and accessories.
As a mobile phone retailer (both online and brick-and-mortar), The Carphone Warehouse accepted trade-ins only on a select few cell phone models, forcing customers to sell most models at other places. Their destination was usually eBay. However, at the time, eBay was not a good place to sell mobile phones because there was no way to verify whether a listed phone was a stolen handset. That made it a second-rate solution for buyers and sellers alike, and it opened the door for competition.
The Carphone Warehouse decided to build an auction website designed exclusively for used mobile phones and accessories. It would take on eBay, and users could sell phones, accessories, and SIM cards as bundled offers. All the phones featured on the site would be verified to be not stolen, building trust among sellers and creating a powerful differentiator for The Carphone Warehouse.
All they needed was a reliable tech partner to build the platform. And that is when they turned to Net Solutions.
The Carphone Warehouse wanted their used phone auction site up and running in less than two months, so the Net Solutions team rolled up their sleeves and got to work immediately. They designed the website to penetrate an untapped market by including the following differentiating features.
As mentioned above, eBay’s problem with stolen cell phones eroded trust in the platform, making buying or selling phones there very risky. After all, if buyers could not trust the system, then sellers could not reach them.
Net Solutions addressed this problem by using CheckMEND to check the unique identity number (known as its IMEI (number) of each device against the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR). The check ensured that phones reported as stolen would not get listed on the site for sale.
"This added a new and important dimension to the trust and security aspect of the new site," said Adrian Portlock, Managing Director of the firm that runs the CheckMEND database.
Net Solutions built a transparent bidding process, allowing buyers and sellers alike to see how any sale was going and how a multi-item auction would be settled once it ended.
To facilitate seamless payments between buyers and sellers, Net Solutions integrated PayPal into the platform. That meant users could simply link to PayPal accounts and make or receive payments in a few simple clicks.
Net Solutions included a powerful graphical editor to make listing phones and accessories easier. Users were able to format their listings however they chose, allowing for maximum impact and better sales.
The platform included a built-in invoicing system so smaller businesses could generate and send their invoices to customers. This would ultimately attract small retailers trying to sell old phones.
A rating system allowed both buyers and sellers to leave real-time feedback regarding transactions. This system built trust between users and facilitated additional sales.
It has been an absolute pleasure working with such a dedicated, professional, and courteous team on MMA.
During its launch, the website received significant press coverage, with positive reviews across the UK. Major online and print publications covered its launch, celebrating its innovative approach to ensuring legal phone sales. This publicity, in turn, led to a large volume of sign-ups shortly following the launch.
Users loved the service and the volume of transactions increased to hundreds of listings per week, all within a matter of months. Smaller businesses were quick to take advantage of the platform by listing their inventories of older mobile phone models. Customers shopping for those phones found them quickly on the website, and it proved to be a win-win for everyone.
Net Solutions continued to work with Carphone Warehouse, taking valuable user feedback and turning it into feature enhancements in the months following the launch—ensuring success for an innovative platform that filled a massive hole in the market.
Net Solutions built an innovative marketplace for cell phones that: