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How to Pick the Right Distribution Partner Out of a Crowd

It's a great time to be an electronics buyer or engineer. From traditional distributors to e-tailers, it's a shopper's market. But first-rate electronics distribution is about much more than buying and selling components. A distributor's ability to provide excellent customer service and in-depth industry and product knowledge – beyond a broad offering of products at a competitive price – can distinguish them from the competition. Moreover, it provides you with a more robust and relevant buying experience worth repeating. 

Navigating the electronics distribution landscape and choosing the right vendor are no easy tasks. Consider the tips below to pick a distributor that's right for you.

Three questions to ask

When choosing a distributor, start with the basics. It is important to make sure a vendor can meet your needs before exploring their additional benefits and services, Three questions to keep top of mind include: 

  1. Do they have my product?
  2. Is it competitively priced?
  3. Can I get it on my schedule?

The right distributor provides options, adapts to changing markets, caters to customers' unique needs and empowers them to feel more in control of their buying experience. The web is flattening the world and sweeping away niche and wide players alike who fail to deliver a compelling experience and clear proposition. Without a resounding “yes” to these three questions, a vendor would have a difficult time satisfying your purchasing needs as a customer.

What to look for from a “full-service” distributor

Amidst today's rapid proliferation of emerging technologies, distributors need to increasingly address engineers' design needs and application demands. “Full-service” distributors exceed industry and customer service standards by providing ample information, harnessing shopper feedback and know-how, and displaying comprehensive industry knowledge:

Increased product information and specs While base content (like product descriptions, measurements, images and data sheets) is always a must, advanced content elevates the customer experience. Videos, 360-degree views, and other interactive, multimedia features build on all of the essentials of each specific product. Additionally, it helps create a more tangible e-commerce platform by giving online shoppers the chance to “test drive” products they cannot otherwise see or hold.  

User-generated content and multi-channel support Direct interaction with peers and colleagues is invaluable, and the right distributor takes advantage of this gateway. User-generated content – from product reviews and Q&As to full-fledged communities where customers can interact with and support one another – places the control back in the hands of buyers. This can also be realized through a multi-channel merchant who serves you on your terms. From online touchpoints like chat and email to traditional methods like call, catalog and in-person sales, look for the distributors willing to cater to your particular needs. Not only is this an indicator of real customer engagement but it also distinguishes a merchant worth your loyalty.

Comprehensive industry knowledge Beyond user-generated content, look for companies that take it upon themselves to provide information about product applications and use cases. Those with deep roots in the industry and years of experience can offer tools like live chats with trained engineers all the way up to in-person visits for bigger needs. Additionally, they can also offer practical design services – from getting you a set of parts kitted at volume and delivered safely to overseeing a small-medium production run of specially designed development boards. This is an area where traditional distributors have a leg up over newer entrants in the electronics market, like Amazon. While e-tailers highlight their business-to-consumer (B2C) buying experience in this business-to-business (B2B) market, they struggle to establish the same the level of expertise and service traditional electronics merchants offer their customers.

Quality electronics distribution centers on delivering a tailored customer experience to meet the diverse needs of today's electronics buyers. Especially in a crowded marketplace, filling an order is just the beginning. The right merchants don't settle for a bare-bones approach. They, instead, go above and beyond to exceed demands and enhance the customer experience.  

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