Ever since the Internet became a factor in the electronics supply chain, companies have been trying to figure out the best use for the web. Distributors in particular had a stake in the process because the Internet was supposedly poised to eliminate the need for a supply chain “middleman.” The channel instead has harnessed the web to expand services offerings to customers and to boost sales.
Web-based tools in the supply chain run the gamut from simple part searches to full CAD capabilities. These sites have generally been dedicated to a single function in the supply chain ecosystem: either purchasing or design. Arrow Electronics Inc. has bridged that gap by developing a tool – simply called Arrow.com -- that acknowledges the link between a product’s design and the procurement of devices necessary for final assembly.
“About three years ago we began studying the role Arrow should play in the web as it pertains to distribution and what we can do differently,” says Jim Ricciardelli, vice president of e-commerce strategy at Arrow. “We approached it from the data-sheet side and began visiting customers. We noticed engineers had multiple windows open [on their computers] at one time. So we figured we’d create an experience where engineers can get a lot of information and use applications [in one place] so they don’t have to click around on 20 different sites.”
Arrow, like competitor Avnet Inc., has been adding to its strategic portfolio via acquisition for more than 20 years. In addition to component lines and customers, the channel has been amassing development talent over the years. Systems such as Arrow.com have been designed in-house to leverage the strengths of distribution. For example, Arrow’s global components business is franchised by more than 600 suppliers representing every product line within the channel. Arrow has a unique component database through the recent acquisition of SiliconExpert.
Arrow.com includes a number of parametric search options, new product information, a library of reference designs, an interactive CAD/CAM tool, a BOM scrubber and e-commerce capability. Users also have the option of customizing the site. Arrow.com’s EnVision interactive reference design tool allows saving and sharing designs, the alert functionality allows users to set up product/pricing/inventory alerts that are specific for the user, and there are customized filters for parametric search. The tool will also search outside of Arrow’s line card for components and solutions.
Click here for the slideshow.
“We understand engineers search for and select parts, but manufacturers have to consider the lifecycle of components, which impacts purchasing and manufacturing,” says Ricciardelli. “Our mission is to provide everything traditional distribution can provide with better reach and intelligence.” For example, Arrow’s BOM scrubber alerts users if a part is not in stock or carried by Arrow.