Stacked laptops for resale.

ITADCentral provides a hub for vendors to list their services and ITAD customers to seek providers tailored to their specific needs. | Plus69/Shutterstock

An ITAD veteran recently launched a platform connecting service providers with enterprise customers, with a goal of refreshing what he calls an “archaic” industry practice: the request-for-proposal process.

ITADCentral provides a hub for electronic reuse and recycling vendors to list their services and for ITAD clients wanting to find providers tailored to their specific needs. Platform founder Kyle Marks said the concept came out of an all-too-common experience his company, Retire-IT, went through.

Marks received an RFP explaining his firm had been selected to participate in a bid for a specific enterprise’s business alongside 25 other ITAD firms. That system, Marks said, allows for a “race to the bottom” on pricing that can lead to illegitimate operations performing substandard services.

He declined to join that RFP process and instead began working on an idea he’d been considering for some time. The result is ITADCentral, a marketplace that aims to vet and differentiate vendors using criteria beyond just price.

The platform also seeks to streamline the process enterprises use to select an ITAD vendor. Service providers fill out a short form when applying to get listed on the platform. That allows ITADCentral to accurately distinguish businesses based on the suite of services they provide. And under the centralized platform model, companies only have to input their information once, rather than doing so for every new project bid.

“We assume that the client is a relatively sophisticated buyer. They don’t have to ask the kind of really senseless questions that are in an RFP,” Marks said. “It’s more of a request for quote.”

ITADCentral officially launched early this year after a pilot period. It currently lists 21 ITAD service providers, with four more in the process of verification. A few early participants include Cascade Asset Management, eCyclesecure, IT Asset Management Group and more.

Certification required

There are some minimum qualifications, including being certified to the e-Stewards or R2 e-scrap standards, and companies must also abide by the platform’s code of ethics. If a provider violates the terms, the company can be expelled from the platform.

“[ITAD vendors are] seeing projects that they would have never seen otherwise. We’re trying to expand the pie, increase the pie, bringing companies that were just Googling and finding fly-by-night, free, fake recyclers into the certified processing professional ITAD industry.”

There is no charge for vendors to be listed on the site. Instead, a vendor pays a commission to ITADCentral upon winning a bid. There is no charge for enterprises to use the platform.

Marks said the tool will also expand the client pool for reputable ITAD providers.

“They’re seeing projects that they would have never seen otherwise,” Marks said. “We’re trying to expand the pie, increase the pie, bringing companies that were just Googling and finding fly-by-night, free, fake recyclers into the certified processing professional ITAD industry.”

Marks modeled the ITADCentral system off the way his own ITAD firm is set up. Retire-IT relies on local qualified contractors to do the processing; the company itself doesn’t own or operate physical infrastructure, instead connecting clients with providers. Marks likens the model to that of roadside assistance provider AAA, which contracts with local affiliates to provide services.

Differentiating among providers

For enterprise clients without established business relationships with ITAD firms, their options can be limited. Often it comes down to doing some research online or looking into market reports on big ITAD players.

“How do you make a choice? You end up spending a lot of time, and you’re still kind of just rolling the dice and finding if you get a good partner,” Marks said.

The benefit for enterprises is ITAD Central provides one location where they can read reviews from other companies that have used the provider. They also have certainty that the vendor is certified and has met certain minimum requirements.

Providers will be able to select by geography and type of project, and when a client posts a project, the service provider will get notified and can decide whether they want to bid. If the vendor decides to bid, its prices are hidden to all other vendors, visible only to the potential client.

Factoring in reputation

The platform also allows service providers to build a reputation based on customer reviews, Marks explained.

“It’s important to have that feedback – we’re building Yelp-like ratings, which are important because service matters,” Marks said.

Because the platform has modest barriers to entry, Marks is not too concerned that ITADCentral could face the same problems he witnessed in the RFP space. Highlighting the differentiation between vendors is another key component of preventing the large number of companies competing for the same job.

If that does happen, “what it’s going to come down to is reputation,” Marks said. “You’re not going to pick purely on price. You’re going to pick on a number of things.” He also anticipates clients will begin to pick their favorite ITAD firms as they develop a business rapport.

Additionally, logistical costs will narrow down the field of companies that can realistically compete for a job. Local providers, for instance, will naturally have an advantage when it comes to costs.

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