Consumers’ ‘Right to Repair’ needs are not being adequately met by manufacturers, according to new research commissioned by aftermarket tech specialist Partful.

As calls for greater sustainability grow, pressure is mounting for businesses to provide easier access to spare parts and repair instructions – with UK legislation, to help end planned obsolescence, set to make this compulsory for electrical products by July 2023. 

In light of this, along with similar legislation being passed in the EU and US, and Right to Repair pressure groups growing globally, Partful – which topped our FactoryTech 50 ranking – surveyed both DIY consumers and professional repairers to understand how easy it is for them to access spare parts from manufacturers.

Worryingly, more than four fifths (83%) of DIY repairers say they struggle to identify and find replacement parts at least some of the time. While almost a third (30%) went as far as to say that they struggle at least most of the time. This issue is not exclusive to the consumer market, with most professionals (52%) saying they need to check, research or seek help to accurately identify parts “more often than not.”

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This is not the only problem repairers are facing, either. One quarter (25%) of professional repairers said errors are happening (i.e. they receive the wrong part) on one in every five orders placed. While 10% said it happens as much as once in every three orders.

When asked what manufacturers can do to support them better, the top answer from both DIY and professionals was to ‘make it easier to accurately identify parts’.

“The Right to Repair movement is not a fleeting trend, and calls for greater sustainability are not going away any time soon,” said Sam Burgess, CEO of Partful. 

“If these customer needs are going to be met, the manufacturing industry will need to transform the current after sales customer experience. This is likely to lead to a digital revolution as manufacturing moves away from the old school basic PDF parts catalogues and repair manuals and embraces interactive platforms. 

“This will increase the accuracy of ordering, cut out all those costly errors, allow for more direct sales and enable faster parts fulfilment.”

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When DIY repairers were asked why they chose to repair products, the most popular reason given (by 46%) was because they didn’t want to scrap products unnecessarily as this was considered wasteful and not environmentally friendly. Half (50%) also said they would pay more than 30% of the original product price for a spare part, while a quarter (25%) would pay more than 50% to keep their products running longer.

The research showed, however, that almost four in ten DIY repairers (39%) said their experience of buying those parts directly from manufacturers was currently somewhere between “fairly difficult to impossible.” Just 15% of consumers currently find the spare parts they need to buy directly with the manufacturer. Instead, more than two thirds (67%) find their parts on eCommerce sites, like Amazon and eBay, or on search engines, like Google.

See the full report here.