My previous blog talked about the significant differences between successful B2C and B2B which have a lot to do with why online B2B has grown more slowly than B2C. The next series of blogs will address each one of these differences specifically. Whether you are buying or selling parts, understanding and managing these issues is critical.
Let’s compare buying a sweater online with buying a D2 Governor online. You can find a sweater on your favorite e-Store like Macys.com or Market Place like Amazon or eBay. When you search for the sweater you care about brand, color, size, material, and so on. Most likely, you don’t care what the part number is or where it ships from.
Buying heavy duty truck parts, like a D2 Governor, on the other hand, requires much more information to make sure the buyer is getting the right part, from an acceptable seller, and at the right price. First, this part may have multiple part numbers because of several reasons. One is that the part might be made by different manufacturers. Second, it will have different OEM numbers. Third, each OE Dealer might give it a unique part number, often by adding a prefix or suffix. And lastly, aftermarket sellers may give it yet another part number.
And there is another part number that you may have: an incomplete part number. A buyer may have only part of a part number or one that contains characters that really shouldn’t be there (like a dash).
With all of these possibilities, it is important that B2B search engines be able to wade through this list and give the buyer some result besides “no results found”. There are two main pieces to managing these searches. First, search engine to look beyond the part number format such as dashes and slashes, and to be able to give options for an incomplete part number. If you know only part of a number the search engine should show you the different options. Even better is if you can filter searches by manufacturer or product category, like “brake system”.
The second is to compare the part number search against a cross-reference database that contains at least some of the part number options. Often a buyer can use a part whether it is marketed by more than one company. The ability to find parts online with a partial part number and get several options to choose from can provide huge value for the buyer who needs a part right now, not to mention for a good price.