Avnet Inc. is expanding its offerings in China by launching a super store on Alibaba Group’s China-focused B2B purchasing and wholesale marketplace 1688.com. Through an alliance with Alibaba Cloud, the electronics distributor will also enable services such as IoT prototyping.
As China’s largest wholesale platform for industrial products, 1688.com is home to more than 10 million enterprise storefronts, with 150 million users visiting the site per day. The site serves as a dedicated sourcing channel for wholesale buyers in China and has been expanding its cross-border wholesale business, including bringing foreign suppliers onto the platform.
In August 2017, the platform introduced IMALL, short for “Industrial Mall,” a dedicated marketplace for major industrial brands and their official distributors, now counting up to 3,000 international and domestic brands. By opening a super store on 1688.com, Avnet enhances its global e-commerce strategy and expands its online presence in China to serve customers specifically in the small and medium business (SMB) market.
Sites such as Amazon.com and Alibaba have been considered competitors of electronics distribution and high-risk sources for buyers. Electronic components and kits are currently available on both Amazon and Alibaba. Electronics distributors are trained and authorized by component makers to resell their products, and devices are only considered authentic if they can be traced back to supplier factories. Suppliers and distributors have been hesitant to honor the warranties of products acquired outside the authorized channel.
Global distributors, which have developed robust e-commerce solutions, typically service low-volume, high mix orders through catalog options. Newark and Farnell, which were acquired by Avnet, are considered catalog distributors.
“1688.com’s primary market is small and medium businesses in China. By partnering with Alibaba on 1688.com, Avnet is giving SMBs in China easy access to feature-rich products that integrate hardware and cloud, plus experts in the Avnet ecosystem that can help them overcome the challenges of scaling to production," Nishant Nishant, vice president of digital, Avnet, told EPSNews. "We see this as complementary to other sales channels offered by Avnet in the China market, expanding our e-commerce strategy in the region.”
By leveraging Alibaba Cloud’s comprehensive suite of global cloud computing services, engineers and developers in China are able to use the most popular single board computers, like the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B/B+, to rapidly deploy real world applications across IoT, AI, industrial automation and predictive maintenance, Avnet said in a release. Coupled with access to Avnet’s portfolio of components and ecosystem of experts that help bring connected devices from concept to design to production, this super store demonstrates Avnet’s commitment to reducing the complexity of IoT solutions for customers around the world.
One of the first products offered through the new Chinese Super Store will be the Alibaba Cloud-enabled Raspberry Pi 3 Model B/B+ computer.
“Through our alliance with Alibaba Cloud, developers in China can accelerate their IoT prototyping on a familiar and versatile platform with built-in cloud connectivity,” said Nishant in the release. “By giving them easy access to feature-rich products that integrate hardware and cloud, plus experts in the Avnet ecosystem that can help them overcome the challenges of scaling to production, Chinese developers will be able to take their IoT solutions to market faster than before.”
“Alibaba Cloud is pleased to partner with Avnet and bring its products and solutions to China. With Avnet’s extensive offerings, the two companies will be able to create a lot of synergies to propel the development of IoT solutions and build an ecosystem of experts together,” said Ken Shen, president of global ecosystem, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.
Electronics distributors have increasingly been forming alliances with organizations outside the typical supply chain to reach builders, hobbyists and start-ups. Arrow Electronics Inc. has a relationship with crowdsourcing site Indiegogo and Avnet has aligned with builder community hackster.io. By assisting users with product designs, distributors hope to capture volume component orders when a product reaches production. They have also built ecosystems providing concept-through-production support for customers of all sizes.