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Times they are a changing

7th December 2020
Joe Bush

Just after the turn of the 20th century, Charles Holland Duell, Commissioner of the United States Patent Office, opined: “All previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness. I almost wish that I might live my life over again to see the wonders which are at the threshold.”

Prophetic words indeed, and having died a little over 100 years ago, what might Duell have made of the changes that we have seen introduced in the intervening century? And more importantly, the pace with which technology has progressed and developed.

The 20th century saw man land on the moon, and gave birth to air travel, television, antibiotics and of course, the internet. And, as the world ushered in a new millennium, it brought with it the era of social media, WiFi, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and blockchain.

While these are worthy inventions all, it’s the sheer pace of change which is having the biggest influence on shaping the behaviours of modern society. Arguably the world has changed more in the last 50 years than it had in the preceding 500.

Over the last decade, as millennials and generation Y entered the workforce, behavioural habits began to change. Those individuals had grown up in a very different world to their predecessors, and as such brought with them equally contrasting ideas and ways of working.

The online revolution has put the power, quite literally, at the fingertips of the people. In years gone by, consumers would just stick with for example, their energy supplier or bank, and it wouldn’t even occur to them to seek a better deal elsewhere. However, with the introduction of online reviews and price comparison websites, the customer journey started to change, and as such, providing a consumer-friendly experience moved front and centre of that journey, and placed a greater requirement on knowing the customer.

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Gone are the days where buying decisions are made via contact with a sales representative; millennials preferring to conduct the bulk of their own research via social media, while at the same time prioritising factors such as sustainability and after-sales support over the traditional must-haves of quality and price (although these are obviously still important).

This scenario is mirrored in the electronics sector. As millennials have entered the market, so has the trend to buy directly from the manufacturer grown – 20% in the last two years according to a UPS survey. “The rise of millennials in the workplace ushers in a new era that challenges long-standing industry norms,” said Brooke Yamini, Vice President of Marketing Operations at UPS. “Not only do these young, tech-savvy customers want orders delivered quickly, they are also influenced by additional services and post-sales support.”

To this end distributors have seen their purchase share decrease in recent years, in favour of manufacturers and online marketplaces. Reasons to buy directly can be myriad, from eliminating the middleman and saving money, to having more direct interaction with product developers and access to higher inventory levels.

Ultimate price is often inflated by added costs from distributors and dealers (by as much as a third in the automotive market for example). And, from the point of view of the manufacturers themselves, cutting out the ‘middleman’ in this instance also offers the chance for more direct contact, and useful feedback, from customers – eliminating potential confusion in the communication pipeline.

Fewer links in the chain in terms of packing and shipping also offers greater transparency of where product is at any given time, not to mention peace of mind for the buyer. Ordering direct from a manufacturer ensures high levels of authenticity, which is a key consideration in the electronics industry, in which counterfeit product is a common issue, and one that is difficult to trace.

Selling through a wholesaler or distributor is now no longer the only way for a manufacturer to get their product in front of the customer. The rise of online has meant that business models have evolved and the traditional barriers for manufacturers selling direct to customers, namely cost, have been taken down – manufacturers are now more regularly omitting the wholesaler from the chain and selling directly to the customer – with a more complete, reliable inventory, and at a price the distributors can’t usually match.

In the uncertain times that we are currently living through, supply chains are having to be managed very carefully. In the wake of factory shutdowns in China at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became imperative for companies to keep a closer eye on inventory and product demand in order to mitigate any manufacturing slowdown. Therefore, having the confidence and assurance for continuity of supply is vital.

Purchasing on TI.com is the easiest way to access the company’s large inventory of immediately available, authentic parts at low online prices. Buyers can get what they need from TI – production quantities, preproduction parts, multiple payment options and flat-rate shipping anywhere, every day.

Features of TI’s online offering include a cart that can carry up to 30 TI part numbers at any one time; a training video series offering the buyer on-demand courses and tutorials to help them with their buying decisions; a line of credit which allows buyers 30 days to pay on every TI.com purchase (available with multiple payment options and currencies including USD, Euro, GBP, CHF, NOK); custom quantity reels which can be fed into automated board assemblies (each reel has a leader and a trailer to simplify manufacturing); and the largest inventory of authentic TI products, which are available immediately, with 48 hour shipping.

We are living in unprecedented times where we are facing challenges today not seen in over a century. This is in turn questioning legacy practices and the status quo. If ever there was an opportunity to think outside of the box and change the way that things have always been done it is now.

If in your buying decisions you wish to save money; have a access to a wider range of inventory; a closer contact with developers; and have greater transparency within the supply chain then you might consider buying straight from a manufacturer like TI.com.

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