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Retailers Seek Parts Procurement Standard

Representatives from some of the nation’s top CE retail chains gathered here last month to promote the development of an industry standard for the research and procurement of OEM replacement parts and accessories.

The users group was formed at the behest of Partsearch Technologies, a New York-based business that’s working with manufacturers to compile a comprehensive database of OEM model and part information for major brands in the CE, computer, majap and cellular categories.

The summit, which included executives from American TV and Appliances, Best Buy, Circuit City, Good Guys, RadioShack, Tweeter Home Entertainment Group and Ultimate Electronics, represented the first time that leading CE retailers had come together in an effort to simplify the process of identifying and obtaining replacement parts.

Partsearch already provides most of the participants with a proprietary, private label research service that allows their customers to order model-specific parts and accessories via the merchants’ Web sites, toll-free hotlines or in-store kiosks. Working with such OEMs as Canon USA, Harman International, Kenwood, Mitsubishi, Toshiba and Yamaha, Partsearch has compiled an 8 million-SKU master parts catalog that will ultimately include diagrams and service bulletins.

According to Partsearch founder/president Dean Summers, the service aggregates parts information from multiple vendors and in multiple formats into a common parts retrieval system. This eliminates the need for retailers and service organizations to manage hundreds of parts research tools such as password-protected Web sites, CD-ROMs, microfiche and paper. For manufacturers, benefits include lower costs for internal data aggregation, more efficient distribution of information to the field, and fewer returns of incorrect parts, Summers said.

Feedback from attendees was positive. Remarked Roger Halford, manager of strategic partnership development for Best Buy, “We’ve been working very closely with Partsearch to create an industry solution. It’s clear after the summit that the industry’s needs are indeed aligned.”

The event was chaired by Lowell Peters, former Best Buy senior VP/services and current Partsearch board member.