New research commissioned by aftermarket specialists SamsonVT has found eight in ten SME manufacturers are struggling to meet customer demand for spare parts due to ordering errors.

The study found that for almost a quarter of manufacturers, at least one in every 20 will see customers receive the wrong part.

According to the manufacturers participating in the research, the biggest consequence of these errors was financial – with almost half (46%) saying this inflicted a heavy cost. More than a third (38%) said they would absorb most of these costs, even when the fault was with the customer – with 11% absorbing the full cost.

Almost a third (32%), however, believed the most significant cost was the impact on future part sales, while 22% said they were more concerned about the affect this was having on customer satisfaction.

These costs will be a concern for manufacturers who are under pressure to make their products more repairable. A growing global ‘right to repair’ movement has resulted in new legislation being recently passed in the EU, USA and UK – with British manufacturers being compelled to provide ‘repairers’ with access to spare parts by July 2023.

The research revealed one key step manufacturers could take to help repairers and reduce errors, would be to help customers accurately identify parts. The survey found that almost half of customer errors (44%) were because it was too difficult to identify the right part.

“The manufacturing aftermarket is a multi-billion-dollar global industry which contributes almost a fifth of SMEs total revenues, but too often the user experience is lacking,” said Sam Burgess, CEO of SamsonVT, which featured on our FactoryTech 50 ranking last year.

Customers don’t typically have access to the digital platforms you experience as consumers in the retail industry. Support usually comes in the form of PDF product catalogues and manual order forms.

“These systems are highly inefficient, frustrating for customers and, as the research shows, lead to lots of mistakes. This takes a toll financially, damages customer retention and hurts future sales. As the right to repair movement gathers movement, and the spotlight on the aftermarket grows, these costs should not be ignored.”