After the disruptions in supply chains, high inflation, and labor shortages in 2022 as the United States recovered unevenly from the COVID pandemic, electronic component distributors were looking to 2023 with hope. Though there’s still a bit of a semiconductor shortage globally, the sector has essentially returned to normal, with price pressures easing, particularly for consumer electronics. The first quarter of 2023 also saw production stabilize for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and distributors of electronic components, with delivery times falling to levels not seen since 2001.
While all this is good news, the labor market remains tight. US unemployment levels have been the lowest since 1968, making rising labor costs a concern for electronic components distributors and manufacturers. High-interest rates resulted from the high inflation and historically low unemployment rates since the beginning of 2022, which has driven electronic components distributors to make their processes more efficient, particularly when controlling their inventory and assets. This has brought greater digitalization to the industry, including the introduction of automated processes and tools that bring greater flexibility to electronics customers.
Finding Reliable Distributors of Electronic Components
Though overall industrial production dipped in March 2023, it rebounded in April and appears set to have returned to pre-pandemic levels, at least for the foreseeable future. Most electronic component distributors and OEMs did well in 2021 and into 2022 as they played catchup after COVID-related lockdowns and other emergency implementations wrecked supply chains. There are still shortages, but these only occur in specific market areas. However, buyers are breathing a sigh of relief with the shorter lead times for electronic components. Distributors and manufacturers feel optimistic about the industry this year and into 2024.
Types of Electronic Component Distributors
There are numerous ways in which to source an electronic component. Distributors come in many different shapes and sizes, with each type of supplier offering its advantages and disadvantages to its customers. End users will likely use many different electronic component distributors below to source the needed parts.
Electronic manufacturers generally sell products directly to end users or through agreements with various electronic component distributors. However, buying directly from the manufacturers doesn’t typically provide much, if any, of a price break, especially for singular or small orders. It’s often more troublesome for the manufacturer to ship out the smaller orders, which is why most manufacturers have preferred electronic component distributors with whom they usually work. This is why working with manufacturers can be difficult, especially for smaller buyers.
Though they may not be the cheapest, authorized distributors of electronic components are often the most reliable when sourcing an electronic component. Distributors often provide end users with much better service and shorter lead times. End users can also be assured that they’ll be getting OEM parts.
While not distributors, manufacturing design companies often have plenty of experience sourcing parts from both manufacturers and distributors of electronic components. For this reason, they can play an essential role in sourcing electronic parts for end users, helping them traverse the electronic component supply chain. Because they’re intimately involved in designing any electronic product, they can help with decision-making that expedites supplies of necessary components.
These electronic component distributors focus on finding obsolete or hard-to-find parts. However, they’re not connected to any manufacturer, so buying from an electronics broker often comes with a higher risk. Often, electronic components from brokers will be sourced from the gray electronic components market, which limits their traceability. Additionally, technical and other after-sales support sourcing components that are difficult to obtain often means buying through brokers. However, it’s not unusual for the same part to be sold multiple times.
When this can’t be avoided, buyers should pay attention to the quantities, dates, and codes for the electronic components offered online to understand a broker’s stock levels better. If there are numerous sellers with date codes and quantities that seem very similar, it’s likely none are physically in stock and are instead from the same source. When using brokers as electronic component distributors, the best thing to do is to order with extreme caution from them.
These distributors of electronic components generally offer the best parts for the lowest cost. Independent electronic component distributors look to build relationships with their customers, offering advice objectively to be seen as reliable. They generally seek to develop good customer relationships rather than glean the maximum profit possible.
Distributor Search Engines for Electronic Components
An essential tool found these days on the websites of many electronic component distributors is a search engine that helps customers search by part name or number or even by the component manufacturer. Automated software has allowed distributors of electronic components to provide their customers with real-time data on what’s in stock rather than manually searching a distributor’s website. Even ad-based search engines allow customers to aggregate search results from multiple electronic component distributors based on availability, datasheets, lead times, models, prices, and specifications.
Often the following information is available on these search engines:
- Availability in real-time, sourced directly from the leading distributors of electronic components.
- Direct links to electronic component distributors take a customer to where they can place an order.
- Distributors use model numbers and other identifiers to categorize a part.
- Price of each component.
- Specifications of components so suitable alternatives can be quickly located within the search engine.
Though most electronic component distributors’ search engines generally look for parts based on specifications, some allow searches according to the application or product type.
Solid State: Trusted Distributors of Electronic Components
Electronic components distributors like Solid State offer a wide range of value-added services and a well-stocked inventory of available parts. We help our customers with various services, from custom branding to zener diode testing. Contact us today to learn more about what Solid State can do for you.