[Updated] Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): How One Little Number Can Drastically Improve Your Amazon Sales
- Lena R. Liberman
- On July 6, 2020
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 filter or switch can prove challenging to find, especially if you’re looking to replace a part on an item that is an older model.
Online shopping has made getting such items much easier by connecting buyers with a world of previously out-of-reach sources. Often, the best places to find specific parts are direct from the manufacturer or from eBay. However, manufacturers often don’t want to deal directly with consumers or they are reluctant to sell single parts, and eBay transactions sometimes leave buyers hanging with sketchy sellers and dud deals. This has created opportunity for Amazon sellers who are willing to dig into Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) and include this detail in their listings.
Unfortunately (for sellers and for shoppers), not all merchants have embraced MPN where applicable, creating three problems:
- Difficulty for shoppers looking to find exactly what they need while searching or browsing
- Reducing sellers’ potential conversions because buyers are afraid to order the wrong part
- Increasing the likelihood of open-box and used returns due to a wrong part being ordered in hopes that it would be a match
What Is a 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 sweater has a SKU, not an MPN; a book has an ISBN, not an MPN). That said, the Manufacturer Part Number is really only relevant in certain cases (often parts for automotive/powersports and consumer electronics). 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. Amazon loves a low return rate.
- Product 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 product.
- Multiple Quantities Sold to 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. When a customer knows that a seller has the right parts, that customer will often buy in quantity and return to that seller for reasons of ease and trust. Why buy from another seller when you know you can get the right part without doubt or hassle? That’s the beauty of MPN.
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 the MPN to the title and bullet points. If it has dashes in it from the manufacturer, list it with dashes and also without punctuation so it doesn’t trip up the buyer or the search.
- Show, as well as tell, your buyer that the part is undoubtedly the right one; include 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 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 the Manufacturer Part Number Eliminates Guesswork
Example: I was searching for a replacement wheel cap cover for a 2016 VW Jetta Sport 1.8. My initial search was done without knowing the part number and it led me to some totally irrelevant results. Adding my vehicle to my Amazon Garage helped, but even then I was seeing parts that I knew were not compatible. I had to do a search, but which search terms should I use? “VW wheel cap cover”? “Volkswagen hubcap emblem”? Wait, why are Toyota parts showing up as matches now? No, I am not looking for sport floor mats. (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).
Finally I got to what I thought what the right part but I wasn’t entirely sure. I didn’t want to order the wrong item and have to deal with a return, so I found the part number from an PDF technical manual online. Then I was able to search using the precise Manufacturer Part Number, get an immediate perfect match, and order the part I needed. And the seller got the sale. MPN FTW.