3 easy ways to improve the resale value of edtech devices

June 19, 2019

As summer approaches, many school districts will be refreshing their edtech devices for the next year. While it’s too late to do much to improve the buyback value of the current fleet of pre-owned devices, now is the perfect time to adopt some new habits that can have a significant impact on the value of the next batch of devices when it comes time to refresh in three years.

Having evaluated used devices from more than 300 schools, I’ve identified three easy steps that schools can take to garner thousands of dollars more for a fleet of devices at trade in time, which can enable them to purchase dozens of additional iPads for the classroom.

1. Buy the right case. Most technology directors agree that iPads and MacBooks should be protected with a case. However, the wrong case can actually create more damage than no case at all. That’s because rigid plastic snap-on style cases can’t stop dirt and dust particles from getting between the case and the device. Over time, these particles act like sandpaper against the devices, creating scuffs and scratches that reduce their value by as much as $50 each.

We recently worked with a school district in North Carolina that used these rigid cases for their MacBook Air devices and were surprised at the damage they caused. Had they used a different case, their devices would have been worth an additional $50,000 at trade in.

Instead, look for cases with a rubber inner sleeve that have a hard shell that snaps over it. The rubber sleeve is better at keeping particles out, plus it is more flexible so that any particles that do make their way in don’t get ground into the device.

Also look for cases with hard screen protectors. These will protect the screen from every day use and scratches, and if the device is dropped, the screen protector will absorb the impact so the screen has a much better chance of surviving.

We recently purchased more than 2,000 iPads from a school that used OtterBox cases, which include a rubber sleeve and a touch screen protector. After three years, the iPads looked like new. Alternatively, cases with magnetized foldable flaps that close over the iPad like a book provide good protection.

Finally, prevent scratches around the earbud jack and charging port by looking for cases that protect these sensitive areas.

2. Skip the engraving. Many schools opt to engrave their edtech devices with the name of the school district. We’ve even seen huge engravings of school mascots on devices. The reason for engraving usually is for security; the idea being that engraving enables stolen devices to be identified. However engravings can be easily scratched off by thieves or hidden by a case. The real security is provided by the mobile device management (MDM) program, which can locate and/or disable stolen devices.

The problem with engraving is that many buyback companies deduct $10 or more from the value of each device with an engraving. Since engraving doesn’t bring added security, there’s really no reason to do it.

3. Stop stacking devices. When storing iPads and MacBooks, the preferred method appears to be stacking them. Maybe this is because these devices stack easily, or because more devices can be stored when stacked. Whatever the reason, teachers and tech directors need to stop doing this. Stacking these devices creates pressure on the screens that eventually leaves permanent impressions on them. These impressions are noticeable and automatically reduce their trade-in value. A screen protector will help, but it’s best to stop stacking them altogether. A better practice is to store the devices upright, like a book.

Small changes in how devices are protected and handled can make a big difference to the bottomline at the time of buyback. Simply by purchasing the right case, skipping engraving and storing devices upright can help devices maintain a higher residual value, which can translate to thousands of dollars at trade-in time.

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