Ready for tomorrow: 2020 will demand more customer focus than ever before...
02 December 2019
2019 has been synonymous with political uncertainty & economic headwinds, driving continued challenges in the electronics distribution market. Although 2020 suggests it might deliver green shoots of recovery, further change is still on the horizon, with the potential of a new government, and the outcome of Brexit by no means certain.
This viewpoint was originally featured in EPDT's 2H 2019 Electronics Distribution supplement, included in the December 2019 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy of EPDT each month.
For distributors, as Rob Rospedzihowski, President, Sales, EMEA at Farnell tells us, these ongoing challenges must be addressed, as customers’ expectations are higher than ever. A new generation of design engineers, brought up with personalisation in the consumer space, now expect the same parameters at work: demanding instantaneous access to a market-leading product portfolio, alternative design-in options to speed up time-to-market, value for money, and access to online tools and resources – all bundled together with first-class delivery service and comprehensive local language support.
Distributors must evolve to satisfy this dual demand. To combat the challenges and expectations of this new breed of customer, distributors must step outside the boundary of the traditional definition of a ‘distributor’ by seeking to provide a holistic service that gets their customers ready for tomorrow. Farnell has developed e-commerce capabilities that make it easier and faster for customers to find the right product, increasing the depth and breadth of inventory so customers can get the products they need, when they need them, on time and in full.
A solid investment in the future
Part of supporting customers as they develop tomorrow’s products is responding to the latest market trends, providing access to new and innovative product introductions. During 2020, we expect modular hardware solutions to continue to make ground as more and more companies look to instantly available and affordable off-the-shelf modular hardware solutions to speed up product development time. The modularisation of electronics is also helping address key challenges in the adoption of IoT and industrial IoT (IIoT) technologies, not only reducing time and cost to market by improving ease of development, but also increasing appetite for adoption by addressing key concerns harboured by the end user community. Design engineers no longer have to develop solutions from scratch, nor do they need to have deep knowledge within a particular field to build a device. Functionality such as facial recognition is available ‘off-the-shelf’, allowing the focus to shift to all important application features and benefits, making the product more attractive for end users.
Security is another key factor which is also being modularised, with solutions such as Microsoft’s Azure Sphere, providing off-the-shelf solutions to combat real world security challenges. It’s this shift in focus, from deep tech development to user needs, features and benefits, that will make a real difference to both time-to-market and adoption, giving customers access to more user-focused solutions.
To support customers on this journey, Farnell continues to invest in its business. In 2020, its $60 million new warehouse in Leeds will come online, supporting logistics operations in mainland Europe, delivering inventory and service benefits for customers. Since acquisition by Avnet in 2016, Farnell has added more than quarter of a million new products and $150 million of stock to its global inventory. Farnell stocks more than half a million products in the UK and mainland Europe, and in 2020, customers will continue to see a broader range across all major categories, in addition to improved distribution and support services, such as same-day despatch and rapid delivery, 24/5 technical support and market-leading customer service.
Helping to make customers successful
The trend towards online is present, real and irreversible, yet distributors also need to be flexible to service customers in the manner they demand. Farnell’s omni-channel approach focuses on helping customers be successful as they bring their products to market. Local and professional customer service is available online, via phone and in-person. Customers can benefit from no minimum order quantity, contract pricing and flexible pricing options, as well as scheduled and consolidated orders. As customers journey to small scale production, and on to larger order quantities, Farnell offers a free recycling service to reduce waste going to landfill and save customers money.
In addition, Farnell provides technical support 24/5, free access to online resources, datasheets, application notes, videos and webinars, as well as technical hubs on its website. The IoT hub and Embedded Hub provide access to a wealth of articles developed or curated by Farnell to support design engineers on topics such as IoT and AI (artificial intelligence). Also available are exclusive tools, such as the IoT battery calculator and AI configurator, to help tackle early stage design challenges.
When customers are ready to scale their product through distribution, they have access to Avnet’s broad ecosystem. This ecosystem provides customers with a clear pathway to gain access to critical services, including specialist design services, manufacturing support or lifecycle services, with no requirement to engage new partners. Farnell and Avnet offer support at every stage, saving customers time and money by speeding up their design-to-production journey. This is vital for customers designing IoT products, as it can often take 10 to 12 partners to bring a connected product to market – significantly slowing time-to-market in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving space.
Strong relationships with leading manufacturers
Ensuring customer success is also driven by providing access to the very latest technologies and most innovative components, which is only possible through strong relationships with leading manufacturers. Following a 25% increase in stock in 2019 alone, customers can now enjoy Farnell’s best ever range.
This in-stock range features an impressive array of single board computing products (increased by a third); around 120,000 semiconductor lines from leading suppliers such as Maxim and NXP; 550,000 interconnect products, with Molex stock up by a third and TE Connectivity enhanced by 20%. Farnell’s passives range increased by 70%, including investment in non-standard passives, such as magnetics, sensors and antennas; as well as a 150% increase in Schneider products, resulting in 100,000 electromechanical components in stock. More than 4,000 additional test & tools products, including oscilloscopes, power supplies, signal generators and digital multimeters, have been added, along with soldering products, hand tools and an extensive 3D printing range.
It’s not just about stock
Having close to one million products in stock enables ‘Just-in-Time’ delivery, which can support working capital and reduce customers’ stockholding, but it’s also enables the kind of logistics capabilities, service and support that makes customers’ lives easier. Farnell has continued to invest in unique ways to improve its customer experience offering. This investment is reflected through the provision of fast quotes for customised or not-in-stock products, e-procurement and e-invoicing to reduce cost of acquisition and administration.
The element14 Community (www.element14.com) is a key resource for design engineers, providing a forum for over 650,000 engineers, makers and educators to connect, collaborate and support each other. Customers also benefit from the content-rich Farnell website, which includes a suite of industry-first online tools, including Connector e-Guide and Soldering Tip Selector.
With all factors combined, Farnell ensures a strong vision for the future, so customers will always be ready for tomorrow. Find out more at: https://ready4tomorrow.farnell.com/uk
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