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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

How a Distributor Makes Sense for Engineers Tommy Cummings

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Your company has a product in mind and it’s up to you to make it. Your task is to build a gross or two of custom power supplies. You'll need parts. Lots of parts.

Is your first instinct to turn to parts companies that specialize in transistors and diodes? Are you unsure of where to get the best deal on a potentiometer? What about sensors and connectors?

The bill of materials (BOM) needed to build your project will be lengthy. It brings up further questions that engineers of all levels face: Does the company turn directly to manufacturers and buy à la carte? Or do company buyers pick a distributor that stocks millions of choices?

Already, the choice sounds obvious. Buying à la carte would be like trying to have a full-course meal at a mall food court. Ordinarily, you wouldn't stop at one eatery for a burger, another one for the fries, another for the drink, and yet another for a dessert or salad. It's the same thought process for buying electronic parts.

People shop for convenience. Engineers and those who work on projects requiring a sizeable BOM face choices that aren’t always available from a single manufacturer.

You’ve determined a BOM of dozens of unique parts. Here are examples of how a distributor offers the best experience for engineers who must deal with organizing a project that requires a versatile BOM:

  • You don't have to navigate to dozens of supplier websites in dozens of different ways. You’re busy and your time is valuable. You have a project to complete. Who has the time to search through dozens of websites? A distributor's website offers a comprehensive selection with millions of parts in stock or available for order. Some distributors have a global reach with access to parts from hundreds of international suppliers. In evaluating your project, distributors can offer selection of parts including microsites that feature datasheets, detailed product descriptions, specifications and applications.
  • You'll have comprehensive online resources: Users can access free tools, such as BOM tools, project-manager organizers, order trackers and search accelerator plug-ins for a range of internet browsers. The BOM tool evaluates millions of parts to improve order accuracy, including recommending alternative products to reduce design and product lifecycle risks. Need help with specs? Distributors also can offer online conversion calculators.
  • You’ll be able to share what’s in your cart: Distributors can offer project and cart-sharing features in which registered users can share projects with colleagues, other engineers, and buyers. Project creators can approve or reject changes made after the project has been shared.
  • You can purchase in varied quantities. A distributor has flexibility on order value. You can order one item–or one thousand. Your order, no matter the size or quantity, will arrive faster. When turning to individual manufacturers, chances are you’ll have to monitor dozens of delivery dates. With a distributor, it’s possible that a customer can submit same-day orders that can be delivered via major shipping carriers.
  • You don’t have to talk with dozens of customer-service reps: Speaking of customer service, you don’t have to play phone tag or get tangled in automated customer-service responses. A distributor can provide technical support via phone and chat. Online, you’ll be able to track past purchases for added convenience and get quotes on parts.

Bottom line, a distributor offers ease of purchase for projects of any scale. From a practical standpoint, you're not entering your shipping address dozens of times, dealing with dozens of different credit-card charges, tracking dozens of delivery updates, not to mention paying shipping charges to dozens of different suppliers. Who has time for all that? You have a project to complete, remember?

Perhaps best of all, you don't have to open dozens of separate shipping packages sealed with all that incredibly effective strapping tape.

Learn More

To learn more about the benefits of working with a distributor, read Mouser’s post on How Buyers Benefit From Using a Distributor

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Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.

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