Fixing high-end electronic equipment like smartphones is becoming more prevalent as new devices become scarcer and more expensive.
When the latest iPhone in Egypt (iPhone 13) launched in September 2021, it cost EGP 18,500 ($753). However, inflation, devaluation of the pound versus the dollar, and low supply mean it now starts at EGP 27,900. Meanwhile, independent vendors on e-commerce platforms sell this year’s iPhone 14 for EGP 30,500 to EGP 47,000 and more. Samsung and other Android phones follow the same pattern, with top-end devices going for 50% more this year alone.
That sharp rise in prices is causing sales to slip. Enterprise reported in September that smartphone imports dropped by 50.7% during the first four months of 2022. As a result, more owners are fixing their devices, even if their warranty has expired.
Ahmed Mansour, CEO of Neptune Advance Solutions (NAS), an authorized reseller of international tech brands such as Apple, Microsoft, Lenovo and Xerox, talked with Business Monthly about how to find the best places to get devices fixed.
The interview was edited for clarity and length.
Do Egyptian users prefer to fix an old device until it’s no longer repairable? Or do they like to buy new ones when their devices malfunction?
When we opened in Egypt 10 years ago, customers preferred replacing malfunctioning or damaged devices. That trend has changed in the past five years, as more customers chose to fix their smartphones.
Their main criteria are the new device’s high price and whether the user experience is worth it compared to fixing their existing smartphone, keeping it alive longer.
In 2022, there was an uptick in local maintenance requests mainly because the pound depreciated from EGP 16 to the dollar at the start of the year to nearly EGP 25. Also, the supply of new devices throughout the market has been fluctuating, meaning people either fix their devices or settle for a new unit they don’t want.
How can the average person know a good place that repairs devices from a bad one?
The most significant point to consider is the company’s history in the local market. There is no substitution for hands-on experience within our industry.
The other significant factor is “word-of-mouth” from customers. It means they will always prefer to deal with us and recommend others do the same.
Social media is now the preferred platform and “most trusted” among our customers to know what is wrong with their devices and where to fix them. Therefore, we must ensure we are present to answer questions truthfully and deal decisively with any potential negative comments on our work.
This approach trumps paid ads, promotions, and paid content. We see tech-savvy users who no longer trust sponsored content regardless of the platform.
What types of maintenance services do customers want?
We have increased our customer base by 25% by working on two fronts. The first is signing maintenance deals with companies that never had one with us. The other is investing in developing our maintenance service, offering more options, and raising customer awareness of such services.
We also created new loyalty programs for some of our product lines and are promoting existing ones. We also invested in expanding our distribution channels and added a new business function with more dedicated staff to handle maintenance services.
How do you ensure you have enough spare parts?
As an authorized Apple reseller, the company provides us with all the original spare parts we need.
We also have invested heavily in growing our network of vendors that specialize in supplying genuine spare parts we need for other brands we sell.
Some vendors supply the same parts, but different companies make them. That means we can offer the same items at various price points to suit our customers’ needs.
We also have been paying more attention to inventory management. As a result, we have not had any shortages of the most used spare parts across all our branches.