Avnet Inc. is moving to transition more of its engineering and supply chain services and functions online as part of a strategic effort to reach more customers, broaden offerings, improve engagement with suppliers, OEMs and other partners, as well as further streamline operating costs.
In the near future, Avnet’s Electronics Marketing division, which handles the distribution of components globally, expects the level of online customer interaction to deepen and has begun taking steps to put in place the infrastructure that would support that engagement. The services the company expects to offer via its “Web-enablement” program will span a range, extending from engineering support to purchasing as well as other supply chain support activities, according to Gerry Fay, president of Avnet EM global.
The transition of additional services to the Web is being driven by customers, Fay said. Suppliers, OEMs and electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers want to reduce their own internal costs while still getting the same level of design, technical, purchasing and supply chain support services from distribution partners and the Web is the best vehicle for achieving these objectives, he noted. Additionally, by moving more services online Avnet expects to reach and be better positioned to support customers that aren’t currently benefitting from these offerings, he noted.
“Our Web solutions play two roles. One is access to purchasing and engineering for support and then there is what I would call Web-enablement for speed and convenience for all of our customers. The idea behind our Web-engagement is that customers want real-time information and we can provide this online,” Fay said. “A buyer, for instance, may be worried about a shipment and wants the status at one o’clock in the morning. If we can Web-enable that it means they can get this information instantly. Where it’s important to have direct human-customer interface that’s always going to be there, but more and more we want to make it easy for the customer to interface and do business with us.”
In the future, Avnet EM customers can expect to be able to access more technical resources about suppliers and the company’s services online. In addition to the ability to purchase components online, other critical information such as shipping, order status and even many design and other engineering functions will also be available to customers online in the near future, Fay said.
Several recent developments are driving this new push by Avnet. First, the company’s sales profile is changing. North America continues to account for a large chunk of its revenue but the Asia-Pacific region is fast catching up. In the September quarter, for example, 42 percent of Avnet’s sales were generated in the Far East, a new record for the company. This shift has margin implications for the company due to Asia’s lower cost structure compared with the West.