The online TE Store makes it easier for engineers and makers to find the information and parts they need

TE Connectivity has launched the
online TE Store that allows engineers to comparison shop and buy TE products.
The store provides access to product pricing, daily updates on product
availability and flexible shipping and delivery options. “We know that
there are millions of engineers across industries searching the internet for
high quality products to design their applications. They want to see what’s out
there, compare availability and pricing, and have the option to buy products
online,” stated Nitin Mathur, vice president and chief eBusiness and
digital officer.

After piloting the site last year
with a limited number of products, the online store now sells in-stock
connectors, resistors, cable assemblies, and tools. Major credit cards are
accepted at the site. In addition, same-day shipping is available and there are
no minimum purchases. However, the online site is currently only available to
customers in the continental United States. TE plans to expand the online store
to more countries.

By Barbara Jorgensen, managing
editor, EPSNews

TE Connectivity, one of the largest and most diverse
manufacturer of connectors, sensors and passive components, has expanded its
purchasing, pricing, availability and delivery offerings via its TE Store. Although similar services are offered by TE distributors, TE’s chief
eBusiness and digital officer Nitin Mathur said there is a large population of global
users that want to deal directly with TE.

“We have
some 20 million unique visitors per year on te.com,” Mathur said in an
interview. “We get a lot of design engineers hitting our site directly. Some
come in via search engines, distributor or component-comparison sites. Many are
looking for price and availability information directly from the manufacturer. We
see this as an added advantage [for customers]; they can choose to buy from us,
or from our distributors. Customers make the choice; it’s our job is to help
them take the journey.”

 

 

Most
original component manufacturers (OCMs) offer design and purchasing services on
their websites. Historically, though, there’s been tension between distributors
and suppliers over “capturing” customers, particularly those in the design
phase.

Component
makers offer incentive programs to distributors that assist customers in selecting
that supplier’s parts. Distributors that secure a “design-win” may receive
preferential pricing on subsequent volume orders. Texas
Instruments
has
discontinued its incentive program with distributors; other suppliers are
considering similar moves.

Ultimately, customers decide where they buy their
components.  “I think this is a strategy
complementary to our channel partners,” Mathur said. “Design engineers start
their journey on the internet, and as an industrial technology leader, we look
at the best way to enable [a customer’s] decision. We’ve consolidated our
product catalog to make it easier to navigate; we’ve made pricing and inventory
more visible; and we’ve designed the store to help engineers. Our job is to
make it easy for engineers to design in our products.”

“We are
seeing a large number of net new customers who are purchasing TE products for
the first time via the online store,” Mathur added.

As more
business is conducted online, companies have accelerated their digital
transformation. The goal is a seamless experience for users. “One of our
metrics is how well we are fulfilling customer expectations in terms of researching
our products and then getting the services they need,” said Mathur. “We measure
ourselves against best-of-breed digital players and we are doing well.”

In
particular, the TE Store — launched Sept. 15 — wants to attract engineers and
inventors. “We want to make it easy for them to find what they need; provide
the right information for their designs; and support them 24/7,” said Mathur. “We
are the manufacturer of the products and we feel it is our responsibility to
answer customers’ questions.”

At the same time, the TE Store is relying
heavily on distribution, according to industry sources. Digi-Key
Electronics
, which
specializes in low-volume, high-mix orders, has a preferred relationship with
the online store. Neither TE nor Digi-Key has dispelled that notion.

Digi-Key CEO
Dave Doherty told EPSNews: “Regarding
any programs that we are engaging with on a supplier’s behalf, I’d really
prefer to leave it up to them on how much they want to communicate.”

“We have
partnerships with many third-party distribution and logistics companies to
ensure we get products to customers in a timely fashion,” said Mathur.
“Digi-Key is one of those partners that helps us provide world-class delivery
to our customers.”

Exclusive
relationships between suppliers and distributors are not unheard-of. Early in
2017, Analog Devices Inc. named Arrow
Electronics
Inc. as its exclusive global distributor. But the debate over “ownership” of
customers continues. Registered design wins provide an opportunity for distributors
to sell more products on the board. Design registrations also collect a lot of
customer data. As businesses try to “personalize” the user’s online experience,
relevance to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) remains
unclear.

“We are 100
percent on top of GDPR,” said Mathur. “We have our customers’ trust. We have
systems in place to assure [customer information] is handled correctly from the
data collection-and-management standpoint. We don’t intend to capture any more
information than what is necessary to fulfill a customers’ need.”  For example, mailing addresses are necessary
for deliveries; e-mail addresses for downloading documents.

TE and its
distrbutors will benefit from a wider market reach and more transparency on
pricing and inventory, Mathur added.  “Online
pricing and availability helps users select where they want to buy their parts.
Qualified sales leads are also generated from online activity.” The TE Store’s direct
and distribution pricing is generally the same; contract prices are
customer-specific.

“Given our
portfolio, our digital strategy complements what distributors are doing,”
Mathur concluded.  “Our intention is to
do digital engagement well. We provide the most up to date data available and
we hope customers will keep coming back to our or our distributors’ sites. We
don’t see that changing.”

The article
was originally published
at EPSNews.