Newark president adapts to better compete with disty disruptors
Stephen LawElectronics Engineering Supply Chain distribution
Traditional broadline distributor makes adjustments in customer service and digital experience over new B2B e-Com players
When it comes to doing battle with so-called disruptors in the supply chain space of the electronics industry, Newark president Dan Hill takes a proactive approach to competing.
“We look at disruptors, like Amazon, as an opportunity to baseline what we can do even better with our own digital experience,” says Hill, who joined the firm in January of 2016. “We’ve improved our product pages by adding rich content like videos and 360 degree photos, plus we have degreed engineers for live web chat to help customers find the right products. This is how we respond to the disruption.’”
Encroachment by non-traditional players in the electronics supply chain streams was a hot topic at this spring’s EDS Show in Las Vegas. Leading the way in this regard is e-commerce behemoth Amazon, which launched a business-to-business (B2B) division in 2015. Amazon’s progress could be worrisome for electronics distributors in the traditional space.
“Our business is really omni-channel in the way that we interact with our customers,” Hill says. “Amazon cannot be all things to all people. Where Newark stands out among the rest is that we have over 100 outside account managers that are actively interfacing with customers every single day. And, we have a certain knowledge base that we bring to that party, and we think that there is value in expertise. As a great example, last year we kicked-up our attack on stockrooms – as many OEM/Industrial customers still want vendor partners to come in and review the stock and inventory positions, as well as commodity items. “
At present, Newark manages more than 80 stockrooms across the Americas (including MX/Latam and Canada). The disty expects to add 30 more to that number this year, according to Hill.
“Simply put, that is not an area that Amazon can’t participate in,” he adds. Hill underscores how doing business with a traditional player ensconced in the electronics supply arena for more than 80 years comes with a deep understanding of the life cycle within the supply chain model – i.e. where the product actually comes from.
We are able to be very prescriptive with our customers
“We are able to be very prescriptive with our customers and assure them where the product comes from. We can show them a train or trail validating where the product originates from. Some of these third party references on the disruptor side cannot provide that level of security to the customer,” states Hill.
Hill took purposeful steps in improving Newark’s customer care, increasing the number of outside field reps, as well as customer service representatives at the centralized call center, plus re-training all 300 members of its sales team.
“When compared to the disruptor model, you will not call Amazon or E-Bay and get a live body to answer your query. In the end, it does cost us more money to do this, but, if you are going to tackle your disruptor head-on, you have find out what you are good at and try to expand,” Hill explains. “The disruptor has brought a certain purchasing experience in our homes to the marketplace that drives us to provide a better experience in the work place.”
In an effort to provide its customers with more detail on the products it sources from Newark, the disty enriched its online content on over 1-millon products by adding features & benefits product content, peer reviews, multiple 360-imaging photos, and customized video content. Over the last twelve months Premier Farnell, Newark’s parent company, has driven over 1-billion impressions to its websites globally, representing a significant increase over what it has been in the past.
“Part of my goal when I came on-board a year-and-a-half ago was to move the business to become more digitalized. We have seen more business move to the web, and as a response we are driving more organic SEO so that our customers can search and find product content much easier,” Hill says. “Customers need to conduct a proper price comparison. Amazon’s price might be this – but, we deliver an unmatched level of service along with the end product.”