It is only when you have the courage to step off the edge that you will realize you had wings all the while. The laptop and cell phone selling business is one venture that many feel is best left to a select few who understand the chemistry and dynamics of ever evolving technology. Well I will tell you that is one big misconception. “All body” can be part of the select many pushing laptops, smart phones, computers and digital accessories. Here is a short guide on how you can thrive in this trade and become the next “Mr Gadget”.

What you need to start the business and costs

This is one business that should never be done with just assumptions. You need to keep a clear head and have clear direction on what you need. Firstly you will need a shop to rent or preferably a full shop in the CBD. This shop will be your site of operation where you sell your laptops and phones. Renting just a space within a shop will cost you not less than $300 and can go up to more than $700 per month in areas that are hot spots. Renting a full shop will cost you from $700 to $2000 per month, also depending on location. You will find that places with high rentals like Joina City and Avondale usually attract customers who are well able to pay high prices like $1500 for a laptop whereas in places like Zimposts Mall, your usual customers is usually not willing to pay anything more than $500 no matter the quality.

You can also chose spots where rent is paid per day for usually $10- $20 per day. You will have to register a company for $300 to make your business trustworthy. Also, with a registered company, you can have a shot at big customers who can potentially give you life changing orders eg Schools, companies and the government. Most importantly, you will need stock and capital to start. Having a passport is an added advantage as gadgets are cheaper in South Africa.

Average Prices of Products in South Africa

An average laptop will cost you 3000-4000 Rands in South Africa depending on make, model and processing power. The more expensive ones with higher processing power eg Core i5 will cost you on average 6000-8000 Rands.  A feature phone that does not have smart functions and internet features (Facebook and Whatsapp) will cost you 60 Rand. Basic smart phones like the Samsung Galaxy Trend will cost you an average of 250 Rands. The higher-class smart phones like Samsung Galaxy S5 and Iphone 5 range from 1200 Rands to 2000 Rands.  The latest phones like Samsung Galaxy S8 and Iphone X go for more than 9000 Rands. So it is very important to know which gadgets you want to sell and the class of people you want to sell to. It is essential for you to also always have cash in hand, as you can buy cheap from people who might be desperate to sell and in need of fast cash.

Market & Marketing Strategy

The market for gadgets has much to do with trust. The trust that the customer has for you and the trust that the customer has for your gadgets. If a customer suspects that your device is stolen they might not buy from you. Worse still if they suspect that your device will not last, then they will definitely not buy from you. Looking smart and formal is very good for business. This is because your clients especially the elite ones, judge you by your dressing and your speech. Never talk like you are anxious or desperate to make a sell. Always keep calm and show that you know what you are dealing. This means you need to learn much about your gadgets’ specs and functions so that you do not stammer or say I do not know when eg. you are asked the kind of processor that the gadget uses.

Using social media and groups is also a good way to advertise your products to a large number of people in a cheap way. Design and put a small poster on the pavements directing people to your front door. Also make a lot of pamphlets that you distribute to the general public showing images of your best stock. The other strategy you can use is to show customers the functions of your latest gadgets that other preceding models cannot perform. This is especially effective to the rich who buy in-order to be different  from the general public. Price your products according to your customers for example clients in Avondale usually become suspicious if a laptop is too cheap. They will assume that it is too common. On the other hand, customers from poor backgrounds will feel that high prices are a rip off and they will not buy from you. They can even discourage others from buying. You must have a website for your business and register a company so that you can compete for tenders to supply colleges, companies and the government.


Profit margins will largely depend on the quality of your gadgets, the type, the market you are selling to and your marketing strategy. When pricing your products, you should put into consideration that you need forex to buy the laptops and cellphones. So you can have a base price in USD, and then charge customers in bond notes depending on the prevailing exchange rates. To hedge against fluctuations in the exchange rates, you should change your money into USD or Rands regularly eg daily or weekly. The profit will largely be determined by the size of your business, and volume of products which you can sell every month. For a small one man-operation business, you can get average of $700 – $1 000 profit per month.

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