Jonathan Leavitt is Chief Marketing Officer for WayPart, an industrial parts search engine with 11 million parts in its database. If you’re amazed that manufacturing doesn’t already employ a search engine for finding parts, you’ve identified WayPart’s genius and challenge of disrupting a conservative market—and how their model could inject that market with some healthy competition. Industrial parts distribution “is a big part of our world that we don’t see on a daily basis,” says Leavitt. “Bridges, school, hospitals—all are built with parts. People enjoy their daily life, expecting it to work all the time. When it doesn’t, it impacts people’s lives. We’re trying our best to create efficiency and streamline the industry.”
What does WayPart do?
WayPart.com indexes the websites of multiple distributors that sell products on the internet and consolidates them into a single comparison shopping site. Buyers can search our database of parts using incomplete or inaccurate part numbers and display relevant data for industrial supplies, such as manufacturer, part number, description, price and picture.
Does your search engine return domestic-only results, or worldwide?
For now, we are only indexing U.S. distributors and so our target audience is mainly U.S. users. As we grow, we plan to include international distributors and therefore expand our target audience to include international users.
Shipping industrial supplies is not as easy as shipping consumer goods. There are many rules and regulations that need to be adhered to, and some distributors just don’t see the value in dealing with this. If a local distributor is present in that foreign country, then they are much better suited.
Is it challenging, changing how industrial parts have been distributed?
Absolutely. It is a big challenge but it is not without precedent. Most companies now develop relationships with certain distributors and deal only with them. This limits their ability to get better pricing and also limits their exposure to smaller distributors that may have better value. We aim to even the playing field and provide users with access to as many distributors as possible so that they are able to compare pricing and make more informed decisions.
What incentive do you give distributors to make their parts available through WayPart?
Our main incentives to distributors are to provide them with a wider user base as well as promote their products. When a user searches for a specific distributor’s part number, we only display that search result, whereas if the user searched for the manufacturer part number, we list all relevant distributors. By doing so, we limit the search results to those of the specific distributor and therefore provide a more targeted user experience that benefits both the end user and the distributor.
How can WayPart’s business model change the overall industrial parts market, specifically regarding production?
Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency; to be able to cut down on time, cost, manpower, searching through different systems. Depending on the size of the company, it costs a lot of money just to use the supply platform. On WayPart.com, you can do it for free.
The Internet provides transparency and immediacy. This has been achieved in the consumer marketplace and we aim to achieve it in the industrial parts marketplace.
[Industrial parts distribution] is a big part of our world that we don’t see on a daily basis. People don’t understand the energy and effort and work that it takes to build, create, and maintain things. Bridges, school, hospitals—all are built with parts. People enjoy their daily life, expecting it to work all the time. When it doesn’t, it impacts people’s lives. We’re trying our best to create efficiency and streamline the industry.