One of the ways distributors are capturing the hearts and minds of their customers is to provide free tools that make buyers’ lives easier. Although the channel expends development time and money in creating these tools, the hope is buyers will purchase components from — and stick with — the distributor that provides the assistance.
Tools target a numberof functions: purchasing; bill of material download/scrubbing; engineering; product design; and supply chain management. One of the earliest offerings to hit the market was Newark’s—now element14’s — purchasing tool iBuy.
iBuy was launched in 2012 with the intent of making catalog—small volume, high-mix orders—extremely easy. It’s part of an overall effort by distributors to engage in more e-procurement, which, like use of the Internet, is a moving target in the supply chain. For distributors, e-procurement drives down costs, enables better visibility into component spend, provides better linkage with suppliers, and aids visibility into supplier performance.
Element14 developed iBuy and offers it for free. The catalog distributor, part of the Premier Farnell plc organization, engages with its customers in any and every way customers want to engage. The free tool, however, brings more business to the distributor. Customers are consolidating their component spend under the element14 umbrella. Instead of buying components through supplier sites or one-on-one proprietary links, those purchases are being funneled through iBuy. Customers still buy from the same suppliers, only though a single site.
This aggregation of purchases though one portal is a kind of nirvana for distributors–by engaging customers early on, distributors stand a better chance of winning production orders.
The iBuy tool allows users to set parameters such as approved vendors; part numbers; price; other users who can view purchase orders; the spend-approval process; and other data that can automate the purchasing flow. iBuy can also be programmed to reflect the customer’s contract price with the supplier rather than element14’s catalog price.
Toward the beginning of its launch, the company reported one customer, Crane Aerospace and Electronics, had increased its business with element14 by more than 70 percent. Crane used to buy through one source and then another, but tracking that spend was diffcult. iBuy consolidates that in one place.