E-commerce, logistics, expanded product lines – no matter how large or small the customer, distributors are seeing the same trends across the industry. Avnet’s Dave Jakubowski gives us the lowdown on what’s new in distribution.
Although there are many different types and sizes of distribution customers, as well as customers within the customer, the latest in distribution trends can be found across the spectrum:
Consolidation of suppliers with a need for more services: This continues to be a leading trend for the electronics customer. The desire to do more with less, and faster, is a scenario that is critical in the business world today. Customers want to get more accomplished with fewer distributor partners, which begs the questions: Can my distributor provide the technology breadth I need? Do they have a broad base of experience to pull from? And ultimately, can they support my company from design through production and into supply chain regardless of where our product may be built?
Supply chain/materials logistics: One service that needs to be highlighted, and certainly one that has trended upward for years, is supply chain/materials logistics. Approximately 60% of distribution customers rely on some type of inventory management program. These programs can range from simple forecast sharing or a bonded inventory plan to a major outsourcing event where the distributor deploys resources for inventory management, warehousing, and the operations required to deliver product to the end-customer’s production line or its designated contract manufacturer’s production line. These programs are becoming increasingly sophisticated in streamlining time and expense. Is your distribution partner the right one for the job?
E-commerce: Whether you are from a large OEM or a small regional customer, your team relies on the ability to access a distributor’s e-commerce site for up-to-date information. This poses some questions:
- Does your distributor have the resources to stay current?
- Is it seamlessly connected to its franchised supplier sites?
- Are its tools associated in making your engineers or purchasing team’s jobs easier and more efficient?
In our personal lives as well as our professional lives, we expect a simplified digital experience when we do business online. We are becoming spoiled; through intuitive navigation, we are demanding access to technical information, products, and available services. Online customer self-service is a must as well, and when we come across a site that offers a differentiated experience, we will go back for sure.
Expanded product offerings: Customers are looking for expanded product offerings from a single distributor. Is your distributor partner positioned and resourced to attract the leading technology suppliers in the industry? Can it provide the products and services across the life cycle of your product? Does it offer silicon, software, interconnect, passive, and electromechanical devices to support the functionality of your design, allowing you to accelerate your product to market? In an effort to offset the lack of growth over the past five years or so, suppliers are introducing advanced technology at an unprecedented rate. So whether you’re focused on the Cloud, the Internet of Things, wearable devices, or a retrofit of some type, there are plenty of new products on the horizon, but the question is, will your distribution partner be the one who will make them quickly and easily available to you?
Dave Jakubowski is vice president of IP&E supplier management, Avnet Electronics Marketing Americas.