So how do you solve the problems of websites that don’t engage with enough design engineers, an essential element in your demand creation strategy?

Eventually, and possibly with a regretful sigh, you dig out the cheque book (younger readers might have to Google that) and make an acquisition.

In a nifty move Avnet has stepped in fast and tied up an agreed bid to acquire high service distributor Premier Farnell. The Arizona-based distributor’s £691m offer trumps that of Swiss-based Datwyler, which thought it had an agreed deal before Avnet arrived on the scene.

Datwyler is now considering its options.

Avnet’s initiative makes plenty of sense. Generally it is the high service distributors’ websites that are the first port of call when design engineers are hunting for the components which will be at the heart of their new products.

There they will find a bountiful harvest of components to choose from, backed by technical support including application notes, videos, and reference designs. All four of the high service distributors – Premier Farnell, Digi-Key, RS Components and Mouser Electronics – now offer free design tools too.

Suppliers are fans of these websites. They use them to introduce new products into the distribution channel, looking to catch the eye of design engineers on the lookout for the components which will give their projects an edge.

The package is completed by easy to use e-commerce tools.

The big prize is building on Premier Farnell’s business model which is based on selling small volumes of components at a high price. To move from selling 50 parts to get the design going, to supplying the thousands of parts to get it into mass production.

Information sharing will be paramount in this process.

To be clear this is not a done deal yet. Datwyler may return with a new bid, though  Avnet has the greater financial armoury, and it is difficult to see how the Premier Farnell board, having ditched its recommendation of Datwyler’s original bid in favour of Avnet , could make another about turn.

Avnet’s initiative to embrace more of the design engineer community contrasts with that of Arrow Electronics which has pursued different initiatives.  It has turned its takeover guns onto the electronics industry media where circulations and editorial strategy are firmly focused on the design decision makers.

Last year Arrow acquired the Technical Publishing unit of Hearst Business Media, and most recently EETimes in the US.

The key question? Will Arrow build an e-commerce presence on these sites?


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