‘Distribution’ Is an Understatement

Many of us call what we do or participate in “distribution.” However, given the word's meaning, describing this business as distribution has become too simplistic.

A quick search on offers the definition of “distribute” as: to divide and give out in shares; to disperse through a space or over an area; or to promote, sell, and ship, or deliver (an item or line of merchandise) to individual customers, especially in a specified region or area.

Sure, moving components from maker A to buyer B is how many of the best in this business started out. But that was decades ago. As electronics advanced, so have these businesses, growing with their suppliers, addressing needs and opportunities that could not be envisioned when they printed their first catalogs.

Long gone are most catalogs, but not the opportunity to connect A to B. Now, good (so-called) distributors do so much more than sling components.

They make room for design chain activities, sharing skills and knowledge that promotes their line cards, but also engineering skills.

They partner for greater efficiency and resource management in the electronics supply chain.

They assess risk, even sudden and devastating risk that comes from Mother Nature and is widely out of control, for best response.

They leverage worldwide logistics, synchronizing supply with demand and measuring performance globally for balanced inventory.

They even manage EOL (end of life) in the face of rapidly evolving environmental compliance regulations that differ from state to state.

To say that this is simple distribution is an understatement.

As has distribution evolved, so has EBN. Many of you began reading this publishing brand decades ago when it was a print business-to-business magazine. Then, as was distribution, the magazine was very much a one-way street. Distributors moved product in one direction, from maker to buyer; the magazine shared thoughts, but only in one direction, from editor to reader.

Now, as an online community resource, EBN is flexible. We bend to the supply chain, addressing the needs and opportunities brought by members of this electronics supply chain community. We partner with the community to share content you've created and continue the conversation through the constructive comments exchanged on each page.

We've redefined ourselves here at EBN. As the incoming editor in chief of this brand, I'm proud to be part of this ongoing redefinition.

As distribution continues to progress, so will we. In the coming weeks, you will see more design chain content posted to EBN to complement the traditional supply side. You'll see us welcoming new opportunities to grow and partner, just as many distributors have.

Most importantly, this is a two-way street. We want to hear from you. If you have thoughts on EBN, share them below. Or if you have content of your own to share with the community of electronics supply chain professionals that read and participate on EBN, send us an email. I can be reached personally at .

In the meantime, you will see us use the term “distribution” on EBN, simply because we lack a better description for the people and process that goes into this business and make up this community.

But know that each time we type “distribution” or “distributor,” we mean so much more than one who disperses product through a space.

What do you think about the evolution of the distributor? Share your thoughts below.

15 comments on “‘Distribution’ Is an Understatement

  1. Marianne
    July 1, 2013

    Welcome aboard! Your blog is great! The meaning of distribution has evolved and continues to evolve, as standards, policies, technologies and expectations evolve.

  2. Susan Fourtané
    July 1, 2013

    Welcome to EBN, Suzanne! I am sure you will like it here. 


  3. Suzanne.Deffree
    July 1, 2013

    Thanks, I already do!

  4. _hm
    July 1, 2013


    What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

    Ever evolving distributors aka supply chain has come a long way and very much integral part of engineering and design team. As such many experienced design engineers are lured and very important part of this community. They also earn hefty dollars. And this change is in motion.

    Evolution is long time process and must wait and watch for a most suitable term to redifine distributor.


  5. Ariella
    July 1, 2013

    @Suzanne glad to have you on editor-in-chief.  I supose distributor works for what you want to convey. I wonder if I'll soon be seeing used in that sense as skill on LI. 

  6. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    July 1, 2013

    Certainly, the supply chain is extending its reach. We are doing more, knowing more… In distribution, I doubt we'll ever use the world simple again. Perhaps streamlined, or sophisticated, or some other “s” word, but not simple.

  7. elctrnx_lyf
    July 2, 2013

    WLcome Suzanne .. I hope your job as EIC will be really interesting to capture the dynmaics of the supply chain business partners. I beleive the design side of the electronics is definitely interesting an can definitely be useful along with the supply chain news to understand te overall market.

    July 3, 2013

    Welcome Suzanne.  I am looking forward to reading your posts and to contribute to the EBN community.

  9. Suzanne.Deffree
    July 3, 2013

    Thank you to all for the warm welcome. I look forward to working with you all as part of this vibrant community. 

  10. prabhakar_deosthali
    July 4, 2013

    Welcome to the new Editorial team!

    Yes. In today's Electronics supply chain context , the Distributor's role has become mufti-faceted. and as Suzanne has rightly said , it is no more a one way traffic – it is now a  multichannel bi-directional highway where the distributor is like a main check-post !


  11. t.alex
    July 4, 2013

    Distribution = source, sell, support, service, and many more 🙂

  12. William K.
    July 4, 2013

    I have not used most of those value added services very often, with the exception of finding part substitutes and multiple manufacturers. One of our policies has been to only use components made by multiple companies, with the goal being to never be unable to get the parts we need for production. Some companies are very good at that sort of service, a few seem to be less willing, and so I don't keep their catalogs around any more. But the multi-sourcing information has been very valuable to us, which is why some get our repeat business.

    And welcome to our new editor.

  13. Daniel
    July 4, 2013

    “We've redefined ourselves here at EBN. As the incoming editor in chief of this brand, I'm proud to be part of this ongoing redefinition.”

    Suzanne, welcome to our community. I hope your expertise in supply chain and related areas will help to guide the community to a right path.

  14. Daniel
    July 4, 2013

    Now a day's the role of supply chains are redefined with multiple roles like supply of materials/devices, services, return of items for recycling etc. So instead of a one way movement, it becomes a duplex way of movement of goods. Certain vendors are offering even marketing of finished goods s/products through their supply sources and contacts.

  15. SunitaT
    July 31, 2013

    Product distribution is one of the four elements of the marketing mix. Distribution is the procedure of making a product or service available for use or consumption by a customer or business user, using direct means, or using indirect means with intermediaries. The other three portions of the marketing mix are product, pricing, and promotion. The work of distributor is evolving day by day.

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