This is a really fun discussion-if for no other reason we get to play with words.
Maybe there is just a driving need for publications--such as EBN--to 'categorize" things that don't need categorizing (or re-categorizing). For the past 20 years, those of us who cover distribution (Hi Tim!) have used broadline, specialized, catalog, etc., and more recently non-authorized (versus independent or broker). These are all terms that the industry has told us are important to differentiate one from the other.
However, Digi-Key itself refers to its model as "a fully-integrated online distributor." So it's worth throwing it out there. Most, if not all of Digi-Key's catalog competitors have made it a point to re-iterate they are still in print.
Which brings us back to square 1.
I'm leaning toward "digital catalog" and "hybrid (digital/print) catalog"
I wouldn't get wrapped around the axle on this. Back in the early days of this channel, the "Radio Row" entrepreneurs like Seymour Schweber sold radio tubes out of a suitcase in Manhattan. No catalogs. No warehouses. Yet they were key in providing access to a wide variety of components. What it comes down to is results.
If name will be an issue, why can't the company go 'Acronyms' and be called "DCD". The company has established its name and the product is known. As long as the power has not change hand, they name change does not matter.
I am not sure the actual name matters. The distributors hopefully have long standing relationships with customers so how they are classified, "catalog" vs. "virtual" etc does not seem to matter. For the changing times though as some customers fall out and new ones emerge, perhaps they need a name that encompasses all the services they provide. The word "catalog" whether it be physical or digital, implies that you are just purchasing an item from a magazine. It does not include all the other services a distributor provides that will aid the customer in the design process. I'm not sure you can find one word that encompasses what each distributor will want to say depending on the services they provide. How about "Full Service Distributors"?
I think it would depend on your relationship with the distributor, in many cases a single distributor handles a range of component manufacturers, for an established company there is the 'samples' path, but for private engineers or hobbyists there is little chance of such people gaining the volume required to enable the delivery of 'freebie' parts.
I used to order SMT components for a reasonably large company, usually before a delivery the sales exec would ask if I required any development parts and these would usually be delivered for free.
I dont see anything strange with the way Digi-key is running its business, after all if it works and they make money then fine, but I would suspect that they would make the real money on volume parts, becasue in this case it becomes an issue of picking single reels of components rather than having to continually cut count and re-pack.
Then there is the sticky issue of trying to retain you industry standards and qualification when dealing with low cost low volume parts, ultimately if it is not a mechanized process or high throughput, there is a danger that a company an easily loose money , but it would be hidden within the complexity of the paperwork system (very few companies can actually do a realistic actual cost breakdown), even a highly computerized system may have weaknesses that prevent true costings being provided.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.