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Arrowing in on eCommerce

Arrow Electronics are not a CDS client, but we noticed this recent article by Arrow’s VP eCommerce Strategy and think their experience with a new parts site over the last year is generally relevant to industrial suppliers.

The article explains, “approximately one year ago,we launched, a web platform that is one of the industry’s most comprehensive component databases and interactive design centers … as we review the web activity we’ve seen in the year since we launched, some observations can be drawn that validate the notion that business-to-business customers want the best of both worlds.”

The article lists these 5 key observations:

1. We’re seeing what we expected in terms of engineers researching on the site

“Engineers, as well as supply chain and procurement professionals, are all harnessing the power of the web to select the right components from a project’s start, based not only on performance and price, but also lead times and longer-term availability issues.”

CDS’s experience across more than 125 hosted industrial supplier Online Catalogs and 3D CAD Model Solutions echoes this.

2. Customers are willing to place larger orders online

“We expected to see purchases for small shipments, but we have been surprised that customers with larger-volume needs are also placing orders online.”

3. Customers are highly interested in product selection risk and obsolescence information

“Arrow offers a range of powerful risk assessment tools that can be accessed through a monthly subscription-based service. The interest in this information is high as customers seek access to chemical and environmental data, material declarations, and on-the-fly chemical analyses.”

The more product detail you offer the better. Don’t think that putting partial information is sufficient to whet visitors appetite and they’ll call for more details. More likely they’ll click away to a competitor that provides more detailed information.

4. Usage of comparison features found throughout the site is high

“It’s no surprise that engineers are constantly hunting for resources that can gather up-to-date information about the most suitable component for their project, gain insights about part details, and compare prices. It’s even better if all this information is available in one place and easily accessed.”

For Industrial Suppliers’ online catalog features such as faceted search, side by side product comparison and configurators are essential today.

5. Customers are getting comfortable using SaaS solutions

“Cloud computing has transformed the way we access information, and as more and more software becomes available on a subscription basis, accessing and managing data is easier than ever.”

We agree but would add that that hybrid commerce (all the existing ways of transacting commerce plus eCommerce) is now expected by customers. As Arrow put it, “business-to-business customers want the best of both worlds.”

That’s what we think – tell us what you think?

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