An online spare parts shop
based on PlusParts was created for the British garden
Rochford containing over 30 brands from a large variety
of different suppliers.
Retailers still occupy a very important position in
the British garden machinery market and so the traditional
wholesalers (distributors) in Britain still represent
an indispensible link between manufacturers and retailers.
Rochford is a dynamic company which, in recent years,
has managed to generate an impressive increase in turnover.
In order to expand upon their spare part distribution
activities with dealers, Rochford commissioned us to
create an on-line parts shop based on the PlusParts
system. The aim was that Rochford customers could find
and order any spare part from any desired make. An on-line
catalogue as comprehensive as this one, containing almost
500,000 items for over 4,000 products from over 30 brands
was, at the time, unique in Europe.
A parts catalogue system for wholesalers poses a whole
new challenge as opposed to a parts catalogue system for
single manufacturers. This is mainly because spare part
data from a huge array of different manufacturers has
to be integrated within a standardised system. This not
only poses a problem with respect to the quantity of data
that is used but also in terms of the different data formats.
Manufacturers normally just have to process the data for
their own brand which normally come in a standardised
format. However, the challenge of this particular project
was to integrate data from all the relevant brands, that
came in many different qualities and formats, into the
PlusParts system. In order to do this, the original data
first had to be standardised to meet a minimum degree
of quality whilst ensuring that as little information
as possible was lost in the process. It was also important
that attached documents and additional information such
as replacement data were similarly accessible in the Rochford
system as in the manufacturer's (source) system. Another
criterion was that it should not matter whether the manufacturer
used article numbers or reference numbers in his diagrams
or if a reference number in the diagram happened to refer
to several different items.
Finding spare part in only four steps
Parts diagram at Rochford Garden Machinery
The enormous quantity of parts diagrams also posed
another important challenge; before opening the on-line
shop, a comparitively small team was responsible for
processing and importing more than 10,000 parts diagrams
into the system. In addition to that, the extremely
complex discount system that Rochford applies to its
spare part sales had to be incorporated into the on-line
shop. This meant that the system now lists and manages
a total of 1.5 million discount rates. The system will have to be continually kept up to date,
which means that Rochford will need to continue to ensure
that all the data it receives from manufacturers can
be updated and managed as efficiently as possible.
The creation of the spare part shop also marked
a complete relaunch of the company's entire on-line presence
which meant that the B-2-B site's entire technical infrastructure
was newly developed on the basis of PlusParts. The new
website concept includes a parts shop, an online shop
for garden products and a community area. Each
element of the site is either entirely based on the PlusParts
framework or designed to interact with this standard.
The relauch meant that the parts shop was completely integrated
into the website. Rochford customers can not only find
and order spare parts but also have access to interesting
additional services such as the quotation generator and
warranty application module.
In order to help Rochford efficiently integrate
spare part data and diagrams from every manufacturer into
a single system, it was necessary to develop different
methods and add special maintenance tools to the PlusParts
backoffice. There are four different methods available
to Rochford employees for importing a supplier's spare
part data into their system and updating it:
1. Real time coupling with the manufacturer's
If a supplier runs his spare part system using PlusParts,
e.g. AL-KO or Allen, all data between the supplier's
system and that of Rochford can be directly exchanged.
The advantage is that the new data will immediately
be listed in the wholesaler's spare part system as soon
as the supplier updates his own database.
2. Data importer for external systems
We now offer importers for a number of spare part systems
belonging to other manufacturers. This lets you transfer
all data, including all the diagrams and hotspot information,
from the external system into PlusParts.
3. The SVG parsing module
The SVG parsing module lets you analyse and add hotspots
to vector-format exploded-view diagrams in the PlusParts
backoffice. The system simultaneously creates a bill
of material during the parsing process. However, using
this method as opposed to the importer means that each
individual diagram has to be re-edited. We have updated
our parsing module for the Rochford project so that
diagrams that are only available in pdf format can be
parsed, provided the pdf file was created from a vector-based
4. Editing manually using OCR software
This method works for all parts diagrams. But because
this method takes quite a lot of time, you should only
consider it if the other three methods are not possible
or if one manufacturer only has a few products. In this
case, the three previous methods may not be very efficient.
Rochford Garden Machinery
Ltd. is one of the leading British garden
machinery wholesalers. The company's product
range features all brands that are relevant
for the British garden machinery market.
Rochford even imports some brands exclusively.
For more information about Rochford Garden
Machinery, please visit www.rochfords.co.uk