Ex-Incredible Connection director in new tech retail venture
Former Incredible Connection executive director David Hirsch has launched a new retail venture specialising in refurbished technology.
The company, called TechMarkIT, is online only for now, but intends to open a retail store in Johannesburg next year – it is currently concluding lease discussions with a landlord, Hirsch said in an interview with TechCentral on Wednesday.
Hirsch, who started his working career at Software Connection – the company that was once listed on the JSE and which would go on to become Incredible Connection – believes it’s the right time to launch a retail proposition offering refurbishment tech gear to South African consumers.
For one thing, the weak rand has pushed up the cost of imported technology, while consumers are also under pressure due to the weak economy and the impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns, which has crimped their spending power.
Hirsch said that although consumers can buy second-hand tech goods through online classifieds websites, they are often reluctant to do so – they can’t be sure they’re not buying a dud, and there are security concerns when strangers have to meet to conclude a deal.
Hirsch, who cut his cloth in the rough-and-tumble world of early technology retail – he established a buying office for Software Connection in New York in the 1990s – served as merchandising director for Incredible Connection. After Incredible Connection was bought out by JSE-listed JD Group, he headed up marketing and merchandising for JD.
He said he hopes TechMarkIT will bring credibility to the used/refurbished technology market in South Africa. The company checks all the products it sells for defects and other problems and also cleans them thoroughly before making them available for sale. It has a 45-point checklist to ensure everything is in working order, including the battery (if the product has one). If the battery is showing signs of age, it is replaced before being sold. There’s a warranty of six months on goods sold, though this excludes battery-related problems.
The company works with all major technology brands, including Dell, Lenovo, and Apple, but avoids products from little-known brands. It also buys goods from distributors like Digital Planet and Tarsus for resale.
Hirsch hopes to appeal to first-time PC buyers, consumers who either can’t afford a new PC or who are forced to buy one with very low-end specs.
“You can get a new, no-name brand [Intel] Celeron for R4 000, but for something decent, it’s very expensive.”
Products that have proved popular so far include old-model iPhones and iPads as well as PCs and smartwatches.
Although online only, for now, Hirsch said opening a physical store is a top priority. This is important, he said, because consumers feel much more comfortable buying second-hand or refurbished goods if they can see the goods in person and touch them before making a purchasing decision.