This is the third in a series of blogs that talk about the major differences between B2C and B2B. The last blog talked about why managing part numbers are critical to successful B2B. This blog will talk about the importance of cross-reference and alternate parts.
When an online consumer searches for a product, like a blender, they may be shown several different blenders made by different companies and for different prices. Fortunately there are often user reviews so the buyer can get some information about quality and service. Or they can go to a shopping comparison site and compare retail prices for one of the products. Once they decide what they want, they can pull the trigger and buy the one they want.
Heavy duty truck parts buyers on the other hand, need options for the same form-fit-function part especially if the truck is down. An accurate alternate part might be just the thing if the OE part is not available. When he or she enters a part number in an online store or marketplace, getting back alternate parts will provide him or her valuable information in one search. There can be can be a dozen part numbers out there for the same part and having this information can save the buyer downtime, part searching time, and money.
Where does this cross-reference information come from? A B2B online site must have access to a database of part cross-reference information. When the buyer enters a part number into an online website, the search engine will look at the parts database for the available cross-references and display those back to the buyer. A valid cross-reference is one that crosses all part numbers to the component manufacturer part. To maintain a good cross-reference database, new parts must continually be added.
Consumer online shoppers may not care in what country a product was manufactured. However, business shoppers may be very concerned about buying only domestic products, especially in the Heavy Duty truck part market. It is important that alternate parts reflect the buyer’s preferences.
Clearly, offering good alternate parts is challenging but the value for the buyer can be huge.