January 6, 2010, 12:00 AM

With better data management in place, Partsearch eyes a new venture

Partsearch plans to launch an online subscription business that will help consumer electronics retailers and others locate scarce replacement parts for their service and repair units. The company will leverage its data repository of 11 million parts.

Mark Brohan

Research Director

Having put its own data warehouse in better order, Partsearch Technologies later this year plans to launch a web-based subscription business that will help consumer electronics retailers and other companies locate hard-to-find replacement parts for their service and repair units.

For the past several months, Partsearch, which owns and operates PartStore.com, No. 350 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name) has used an application from Silver Creek Systems Inc. to standardize and cleanse the data elements in a repository that stores information on nearly 11 million replacement parts for various electronics, appliance and computer products.

Partsearch used Silver Creek’s DataLens System application to streamline the flow of replacement parts information coming from as many as 100 parts suppliers and distributors. And now, with a new repository that features real-time access to data and advanced reporting tools, Partsearch is developing a subscription-based service aimed at helping consumer electronics and appliance retailers and companies that manage coverage under extended warranties to locate hard-to-find replacement parts. Partsearch expects to launch the new service sometime in the second quarter, says senior vice president of retail and e-commerce Dan Seligson.

“We are a product company with a business plan to become an information company,” Seligson says. “Our target audience is the market for after-sale parts and service.”

Today some bigger retailers may be linked to a limited information repository that provides them with some parts information from their biggest suppliers. But as Best Buy Co. Inc. and other retailers look to expand Geek Squad and similar services for product service and repair, they will need access to more real-time information on replacement parts, says Seligson. “The manufacturers are focused on selling new products and there is an information void in the business-to-business market for locating parts for a lot of older models of appliances and consumer electronics,” he adds.

To date Partsearch has concentrated on online retailing–a business which continues to grow. In 2009, PartStore.com posted sales of $27 million, an increase of 33.7% from revenue of $20.2 million in 2008. But by broadening its reach as an information service provider for other retailers and extended warranty companies, Partsearch sees a key opportunity to diversify, says chief information officer James Barry. “There are eight major business segments that could utilize us as a replacement parts search engine,” he says. Partsearch is looking at a subscription-based revenue stream, but has yet to finalize pricing details, the company says.

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