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Best Buy Deploys Comprehensive Parts Catalog

Best Buy has launched the industry’s first comprehensive Master Parts Catalog (MPC), a 10 million-SKU listing of replacement parts and accessories for consumer electronics and appliances.

The catalog, which is considered a boon to the service community, was compiled by New York-based Partsearch Technologies and Best Buy with the cooperation of leading manufacturers including Canon USA, Frigidaire, Harman International, Hewlett Packard, Kenwood, Mitsubishi, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony, Thomson and Toshiba.

The MPC provides OEM model and part cross-referencing, descriptions, manufacturer-approved substitutions, exploded views, schematics and other service related information. The result, which was more than a year in the making (see TWICE, Dec. 17, 2001, p. 32), is a comprehensive solution that ties together all parts and service information across multiple brands in multiple product categories, in a single standardized, searchable common retrieval system.

Best Buy has integrated the MPC into its work processing system and is currently rolling out the application to its entire 1,000-technician service organization.

“The benefits of the MPC will positively impact both manufacturers and service organizations alike,” said Dean Kimberly, Best Buy’s VP/retail services, who described the catalog as an “industry solution.” Touted benefits include higher productivity, faster repair turn times and improved customer service, since the catalog eliminates the need for technicians to manage hundreds of parts research tools like CD-ROMs, microfiche, paper files, and Web sites with their own passwords and functionality.

“The overall objective of Partsearch is to increase the visibility of OEM parts information to the end user,” said Dean Summers, founder and president of Partsearch. “This means getting the parts data from the OEM to the field in a timely manner, in a common format that the retail and service industry needs.”

Best Buy is the first major CE chain to adopt the service center solution, which represents the second phase of Partsearch’s replacement parts platform.

Earlier this year, the company launched a private label parts and procurement program that allows consumers to order model-specific replacement parts and accessories via dealer Web sites, toll-free phone numbers and in-store kiosks. The comprehensive listing covers some 100 brands of CE, majap, PC and cellular products, including such hard-to-find items as remote controls, laptop batteries, dishwasher baskets and AC adapters.

Participating dealers receive a customized, co-branded Web interface and a dedicated toll-free number that routes consumer queries to Partsearch’s inbound call center. Customers, which include American TV & Appliances, BrandsMart USA, Conn’s, H.H. Gregg, Good Guys, Ultimate Electronics and, most recently, Tweeter Home Entertainment Group, can also support the program with in-store signage and point-of-purchase displays.

In its latest pact with Tweeter, Partsearch is also providing a store order Extranet solution that will allow Tweeter to more efficiently order parts to support open box demos and display items. The service, which features such administrative functions as user verification and spending limits, lets individual Tweeter locations circumvent the service department to order parts for in-store use directly, which is considered a less cumbersome process.