- Lena R. Liberman
- On October 23, 2017
If you’ve ever needed specialized electronics or tools, replacement parts for home or auto repair, or parts for modifications, hacks, or DIY projects, you know the frustration surrounding trying to get the right parts. Even what seems like a simple replacement light bulb or a filter or a switch can prove challenging to find, especially if the part is a product that is not the most recent model.
Online shopping made getting such items much easier by connecting buyers with a literal world of previously out-of-reach sources. The best places to find these items were usually direct from the manufacturer or from eBay. But manufacturers often didn’t want to deal directly with consumers or they wouldn’t sell single parts, and eBay transactions sometimes left buyers hanging with sketchy sellers and dud deals. This created an opportunity for Amazon sellers who were willing to dig into Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) and include this detail in their listings. Unfortunately (for sellers and for shoppers), not all sellers have embraced the usage of MPN where applicable, making it more difficult for shoppers to find what they need and also cutting into sellers’ potential conversions.
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN)
Simply put, the MPN is a unique identifier set by the product’s manufacturer to differentiate it from similar parts and counterfeits. It helps manufacturers and sellers identify and manage stock levels and it puts buyers’ minds at ease because they know that they are getting the right component. For Amazon, MPN is an optional field in the inventory listing file and not applicable to all merchandise (a Gap sweater has a SKU, not an MPN). That said, it’s really only relevant in certain cases. But in those cases, it’s pure gold for several reasons.
The Benefits of Including MPN
- Discoverability: MPN is a field that is indexed by Amazon and by Google, which means that if you include it in your listing, it will be picked up and matched by both search engines and displayed in results. This gets your product found fast and without ambiguity.
- Conversion: A replacement part or a highly specific piece of equipment isn’t an optional item or one where a shopper browses for a better match or a different color. These sorts of items are what the shopper needs and no other part will do. When you drill down to MPN specificity, and that MPN is the exact term for which the user is searching, you are almost certain to achieve the conversion because the shopper has undoubtedly found the right product.
- Few/No Returns: When you sell the right product to the customer who needs that exact item, you won’t have many (or any) returns. This saves you time and money and it helps your seller rankings and ratings.
- Reviews: With no doubt about the compatibility of the item, you are likely to get a good review from the buyer. Shoppers are immensely appreciative of those sellers who can meet their highly specific demands. They also appreciate being able to fix or restore items by replacing parts rather than having to purchase an entirely new larger, more-expensive new product.
- Repeat Customers: A shopper who is a serious stereo enthusiast or DIYer often needs multiple specialty parts or single parts in multiple quantities. A person working on a classic car might need four of something if he or she is working on wheels. A person replacing bulbs in commercial ceiling fans will likely buy more than one bulb so that he or she has spares on hand when the next bulb needs replaced.
Go Beyond Listing MPN In the Optional Field
If you’ve got MPN-applicable merchandise, including that detail is great, but you can still go further and get more out of it.
- First and foremost, double check that you’re listing your MPN correctly. The confusion here undoes all of the good of using the MPN in the first place.
- Don’t just include the MPN in the Manufacturer Part Number field in the inventory listing. Add it to the title and bullet points. If it has dashes in it from the manufacturer, list it with dashes and also without so punctuation doesn’t trip up you or the buyer or the search.
- Show, as well as tell, your buyer that the part is undoubtedly the right one by including the MPN in one of your detail photos of the part. Usually, the MPN is stamped on the part and seeing that will boost a customer’s confidence.
- If you know for a fact that a particular part is compatible with many products, list those other products as well so you can pick up traffic from buyers who might not know that what you have to offer will do the job for them.
Using Manufacturer Part Number Eliminates Guesswork
See for yourself what happened to me when I was searching for a replacement wheel cap cover for my 2001 VW Jetta TDi. My initial search was done without knowing the part number and it led me to totally irrelevant results (Is it a VW wheel cap cover? A Volkswagen hubcap emblem? Why are Toyota things coming up? Sellers can solve this search-verbiage problem with a tool like Scope, which tells you the exact words that shoppers are using to search and how to use those as your listing keywords). When I found the part number from an old technical manual online in PDF form, I was able to search using MPN, get immediate perfect matches, and order the part I needed. And the seller got the sale. MPN FTW.
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