Sourcing for electronic components to fulfill one’s BOM can often be more challenging then it needs to be. Am I paying too much? Should I be afraid of the counterfeit products? Are my parts coming from the authorized supply chain partners? Where do I find available, ready to ship, components? These are just a few questions one can ask while going through the list of needed electronic components. Whether you are an experienced procurement officer or a design engineer or just entering the field of electronic component supply chain, this article might come in handy as a reference.
How to Buy Electronic Components Better:
1. Search for Availability
Searching for availability at first always comes in handy because it can help one see what the marketplace looks like at a given time. This can also help determine if there is a potential lead time as well as what the average price for the needed parts is. As tempting and easy as a Google search sounds, there are much more efficient ways for one to determine the component availability – search aggregators. Search aggregators are websites where stocking distributors upload their inventory in hopes of having their parts found by the potential buyer. These websites are helpful because they allow buyers and engineers to find available components from multiple distributors and compare the prices all in one spot. Searching for the parts through Google does not sound as tempting anymore. Why search for the prices one distributor at a time, right? The top few search aggregator platforms that come to mind are:
2. Avoid Going to Large Catalog Distributors Immediately
Going to large catalog distributors directly provides a certain level of confidence, especially if one is familiar with their sale and shipping processes. This comes with a nice markup. Yes, the big catalog houses carry a lot of stock. Yes, the big catalog houses offer the same day shipping on many of their stocked items. Yes, their prices are very high. So high, that sometimes one would wonder how they get away with it. There are many other smaller, also authorized by the very same suppliers, niche distributors that can offer a lot better pricing. They also carry a lot of stock on their niche products and offer the same day shipping on stocked items as well. Performing a component search or uploading a BOM list through one of the search aggregators described in section 1 would create an opportunity to find parts a lot cheaper. Also, the price displayed online is not the price a buyer needs to pay necessarily. If one desires to shop through e-commerce and prefers the ease of use, he/she might pay a higher price for that convenience. Picking up the phone and working 1 on 1 with the salesperson might help the buyer score a discounted price. Plus, it does not hurt to say hi and be friendly for 5 minutes while forming a valuable industry connection one might be buying from in the future.
3. Buy Electronic Components From the Authorized Sources
When the demand is high and components are needed quickly, it is hard not to be tempted and just buy them “anywhere.” If possible, take an additional step and request from the person selling the parts for the supplier authorization letter and/or manufacturer certifications with the order. Most of the authorized distributors offer certs at no additional cost. Purchasing from the manufactures directly or their authorized distributors is the best way to go. All the products are traceable and under manufacturer warranty, in case there is a failure. The advantage of non-authorized (independent) distributors is the fact they carry a lot of stock and often benefit in times when there is a component shortage in the marketplace. More often than not, the independent distributors cannot provide manufacturer certs without an additional cost and are, on average, pricier than the authorized distributors. The reason for that is the fact they cannot purchase/negotiate the stocking packages at the same cost levels as the authorized distributors. An even deeper form of an independent distributor is a broker. Brokers are not authorized. They do not carry the same level of quality inspection as the authorized or some independent distributors. The broker model is very simple to understand – do not carry stock, rather, receive a request for a part, buy it from the authorized or independent stocking distributor and sell it to the end user at a higher markup.
Whatever model one prefers to buy from, this list should summarize why or why not to purchase from certain sources.
Medium-size authorized distributors are the winners in the eyes of experienced component buyers. They offer e-commerce solutions for low volume, quick-shipment needs as well as dedicated technical account reps to work with on larger or custom applications. They are experts in their niche, carry a lot of stock, provide manufacturer certs and are, most of the time, cheaper than the catalog houses or independent distributors.
About Air Electro:
Air Electro is a specialty, value-added authorized distributor of connectors and contacts. Serving the aerospace, industrial and commercial markets since 1952, Air Electro carries the most sophisticated connector manufacturers on its linecard.
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