Spare parts: a solution for rational consumption

Discover the ecosystem of spare parts, and learn about their ecological and business impact.

Bilel AMMAR
June 17, 2022

Spare parts management has many advantages in the aftermarket. It is a known need for both repairers and retailers, but it can also be developed as a direct solution for the end customer. Spare parts represent a strong business challenge, without forgetting their ethical and ecological dimension which touches the values of an increasingly committed end customer.

A solution for professionals and individuals

Spare parts are essential for repairers as part of their after-sales service, but they are also distributed by retailers with a view to selling them to private individuals. Indeed, the latter are increasingly encouraged to repair their objects themselves.

For individuals

The "Do It Yourself" trend that emerged in the 2000s is manifesting itself in many sectors, including the vast repair sector. As a way of opposing the consumer society, customers are encouraged to repair their objects themselves. Surfing on this dynamic, the brands are developing systems that encourage self-diagnosis: tutorials, videoconferences with technicians (otherwise known as video troubleshooting), etc. This is the "self-care" after-sales service that brings together the advice and resources of the company and its professionals, as well as those of a community, with the aim of helping the customer to solve his problems himself.

Self-repair is a boon for the consumer, who reduces costs, but it is also an added value for companies, which filter their flow of complaints and give greater value to the expertise of their repairers. A win-win process and an agile solution!

Consumers must therefore be able to obtain spare parts to make up for any defects in their appliances. This is how spare parts e-traders have developed, alongside traditional furniture and household appliance retailers.

For retailers

On the retail side, there are many rules governing the sale of spare parts, and this is sometimes a real headache. Indeed, the transparency of information for the consumer has been made a priority by the legislator. As a result, mandatory indicators and information must now be displayed on many products.

The anti-waste law of February 10, 2020 had notably made mandatory on January 1, 2021, the display of a new ecological indicator: the reparability index. Initially, are concerned by this measure: washing machines with window, smartphones, laptops, televisions and electric lawn mowers. The aim of the operation is to fight against programmed obsolescence, to promote repair and the circular economy.

Also, since 1 January 2021, the consumer must be provided with information on the availability of spare parts when purchasing the finished product. The parts in question must be available within a reasonable period of time, for a named period of time and at an attractive price. For example, spare parts for a refrigerator must be available for a defined period of at least 7 years after purchase, and they must be delivered within 15 working days. While the measure currently applies only to furniture and electronic and electrical appliances, it is planned to apply to a wider selection of products.

Spare parts management solutions are essential to reference parts, manage inventory and facilitate ordering.

For professionals

Repairers remain the main customers for spare parts, either by working directly for furniture or appliance retailers via their breakdown service, or by working as independents.

For retailers, repairers are essential for their expertise, but also to be able to respect their sales contract with the consumer, which contains a "legal guarantee of conformity". This allows for free repair or replacement of a damaged product within two years of a new purchase and six months for a second-hand purchase. The legal guarantee of conformity and its duration must be mentioned on the product's invoice or the sales receipt.

On the independent side, these often allow intervention after the validity of the product guarantee. Indeed, despite numerous regulatory measures and the growing desire of consumers to buy more responsibly, the price of equipment and certain repairs (particularly at the distributor's) constitute a brake on repairs, compared with new products that are often more economically advantageous. In fact, when the warranty is no longer effective, buying a new appliance is still too often the preferred option. Independent repairers still offer interesting alternative solutions and are diversifying their offer by offering spare parts for sale.

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Sectors concerned by spare parts

The economic actors of reuse and repair are in good health. The sector is attracting investors and major retailers. On the other hand, it has to organise itself to make up for the lack of trained technicians.

The automotive sector in the lead

Automotive after-sales service

When we think of "spare parts", we immediately draw a parallel with the automotive sector. Indeed, this is the field in which spare parts are most often used, a truth illustrated by the giant Ebay, which sells 1 car spare part every 23 seconds.

This is obviously due to the sector itself, which requires spare parts on a regular basis when our vehicles are serviced. This is a common practice in this case. This sector is also very favourable to the use of second-hand parts, with the help and advice of professional technicians.

The IT and household appliances sector faces new challenges

Electronic after-sales service

The IT and household appliance sectors are also good performers in terms of spare parts. However, these sectors have been experiencing a shortage of electronic components since 2020, as a result of an increase in demand since the Covid crisis with the containment and standardisation of teleworking, combined with production capacity that was already stretched. This shortage is known as the semiconductor crisis, and has impacted the automotive industry, but also the graphics card and video game console industries.

The only thing to do is to take care of your equipment, because it will not be renewed any time soon!

Again, the solution is to use second-hand parts, and many retailers offer to take back your used appliances or even give you a discount on the purchase of a new appliance if you bring in the old one. Companies also take back new spare parts before they are destroyed in case of overproduction.

At the same time, household appliance brands are reviewing their business model so that the sale of repair services becomes a strategic axis that will gradually take precedence over the sale of new appliances.

The more unexpected sectors: real estate, furniture and DIY

Unexpected as it may be, the circular economy also exists in real estate. This manifests itself in the reuse of furniture when fitting out offices, and it is a practice that is likely to become increasingly common with the creation of temporary accommodation. Furniture is also one of the sectors that offers spare parts, such as the giant IKEA, which offers spare parts free of charge. The anti-waste law's obligation to provide spare parts also extends to producers of DIY and motorised gardening tools, sports and leisure items, since the Climate and Resilience Act of 22 August 2021. This progress for spare parts foreshadows an opening to other sectors.

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Ecological and business perspectives

The development of the circular economy benefits the repair market and, indeed, the spare parts market. The ecological dimension and the environmental concerns of a brand or chain are becoming a key argument for consumers who are increasingly attached to their values. 

The anti-waste law of 10 February 2020 initiated a transition by making the display of a new ecological indicator mandatory: the reparability index. The latter should be replaced in 2024 by a sustainability index that will include new criteria such as the robustness and reliability of products.

Since 1 January 2022, Article L224-109 of the Consumer Code also stipulates that professionals offering spare parts for sale must include parts from the circular economy in their service. An obligation - limited to certain parts listed by decree - which in fact provides a solution in a sector where there is a shortage of certain spare parts. In order to comply with this measure, the professional must inform the customer that he can opt for parts from the circular economy through a "clear, visible and externally readable" display, as well as a display on his website.

We no longer throw away, we repair. At least that is what society is moving towards, encouraged by national and European rules in favour of sustainability. France is also a pioneer in Europe in the circular economy and wishes to set up a repair fund by the end of 2022, intended to finance 10% of the cost of a repair carried out by a labelled professional.

Conclusion

In summary, the spare parts sector is growing and innovating, on the one hand with the rise of after-sales service, and on the other hand with the trend towards self-repair. The consumer's values are supported by the legislator, who is moving in the direction of the circular economy, with the guiding principle of clear and detailed product information for the consumer. The first concern is reparability, which will gradually be integrated into a larger issue: sustainability. These changes create new obstacles such as the recruitment and training of repairers, as well as access to spare parts which may be in short supply. Solutions are already being developed to further enrich the world of after-sales service.

Integrate our spare parts solution into your business to gain access to the many benefits of this fast-moving sector.

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