Just alongside our annual award show – BETA AWARDS, we got a chance to have an exclusive chit-chat with Mark Burr-Lonnon, Senior Vice President of Global Service & EMEA and APAC Business, Mouser Electronics. As the electronic component distribution biz is witnessing critical transformations, Mouser has been acquiring quite a market alone in India and the APAC region at large. Niloy from BISinfotech was quite fancy to apprehend the strategies of Mouser in the post-pandemic era. Hence Mark deciphers on tapping the trend of online customers, extending one-stop buying experience, propping up the inventory and lastly their pertinent leadership in the semi-distribution business. All wrapped up in the below-edited excerpts.
Q Is coping with the new demand a critical challenge for electronic component distributors as delivery lead times and shortages seems to be nimble across this industry? What is Mouser Electronics’ key strategy to stay viable whereas meeting customers demand during this post-pandemic time?
Mouser Electronics has always focused on our core value proposition of specializing in the rapid introduction of new products and technologies, helping customers gain the edge they need to reduce their time-to-market. With over one million unique part numbers in stock or available to order, our inventory position is designed to ensure customers get what they need fast, and that accessibility to the widest selection of new products benefits our customers. We make this possible by maintaining a sufficiently wide selection of products in stock from over 1,100 manufacturer brands, assisting customers in finding alternate products if the need should arise. Engineers and buyers certainly appreciate this high level of service throughout the design and buying process.
Even with our strong inventory position, we are not immune to extended lead times and allocation on some products during this challenging time of supply chain instability. We are closely monitoring part numbers that are out of stock and are working with manufacturers to replenish those part numbers as quickly as possible.
Q Being one of the top global distributors, according to you how important is to understand the market needs to help online customers’ get a one-stop buying experience?
It is absolutely critical to know the pulse of the market. In our line of business, our customers are eager to know about the latest parts and components, how new technologies are evolving, and how all of this comes together for the next generation of applications and solutions. By making the newest products available quickly and providing relevant information and tools to help make the right buying decisions, all in a single place on mouser.in, we can help enable customers to innovate and build better solutions. Engineers can find detailed technical information on our Newest Products page and Technical Resource Centre, for example, to help speed design.
Mouser also leads in delivering support for our customers with a suite of online tools through our new Customer Resource Centre, a central hub containing Mouser’s online purchasing services and tools that help customers optimize the purchasing process. The Customer Resource Centre houses a full suite of productivity tools from Mouser, including the FORTE intelligent BOM tool and Price and Availability Assistant, as well as information on creating a My Mouser account for even easier online ordering.
Q According to you, which segments and technologies are shaping the future of the semi biz. Being a leading distributor, the challenge it pertains to managing the inventory keeping the demand and supply at par.
Automotive, factory and home automation will continue to be emerging markets as more technologies are introduced to make buildings, homes and vehicles smarter and safer. We will also see an increased need for components for wireless-, mobile- and telecommunications-related devices, especially with the rising adoption of 5G and IoT applications. Over the last two years, we have also seen an increase in buying from medical device manufacturers.
Q Reports globally states the unavoidable market fluctuations due to chip shortage stranding down most industries that depend on electronic components, ranging from basic home appliances like microwaves and refrigerators to the automotive sector. How is Mouser addressing these shortage issues?
As I stated, we are not immune to these supply chain challenges. Component shortages are likely to impact the market for some time, and we will continue to work with our manufacturer partners to make the products available as soon as possible. In the short term, we are working diligently to keep the shelves stocked with new inventory. Over the long term, we must continue to anticipate customer needs to stay prepared for this type of surge in demand. Mouser’s strategy as an electronic component distributor has always been to maintain a sufficient inventory to ensure that our buyers’ needs are met despite fluctuations in global supply levels. This has served us very well and we are working to fulfil orders from existing and new customers, offering them alternative choices, etc.
Whether a customer is buying online or through one of our customer service representatives, we have the professionals, products and procedures in place to serve them. Customers appreciate this level of service from an authorized, well-resourced distributor like Mouser.
Q Communication and providing customers with every bit of information from product status to delivery seems pivotal. How is Mouser offering best-in-class customer service?
Mouser’s global logistic partners — such as DHL, FedEx and UPS — have been integral to keeping our worldwide business going. We work with them closely to handle delivery logistics and they’ve done a great job for us, even throughout the pandemic, where we were able to keep delivering orders despite country-wide lockdowns and weather problems in several regions. As part of our processes, all our deliveries can be tracked end-to-end, and each part can even be traced back to the manufacturing facility where it was produced. This gives our buyers the confidence that every part is 100% genuine.
Q According to you what are the critical electronics supply chain management challenges faced by the electronics industry in 2021?
The pandemic forced the slowdown of the supply chain and the industry continues to feel the ripple effects. The chip shortage is leading governments to pass legislation to subsidize and boost the fabrication industry. Yet, such multi-billion-dollar investments cannot happen overnight. The biggest challenge over the next decade will be catching up and keeping up. Since a lot of electronics components manufacturing is concentrated in a few countries, disruptions caused by lockdowns, geopolitics, natural disasters, environmental concerns and the like, can adversely affect the global supply chain. It will be necessary for the industry to find solutions to meet the supply/demand challenges as the digital revolution accelerates. Fortunately for Mouser as an electronic component distributor, we made the decision early in the pandemic to continue to invest in inventory and that decision was the right move.
Q Insights on recent innovations in Mouser’s distribution model, and how have these led to better customer service?
Mouser leads the industry in state-of-the-art distribution advancements. Case in point: Our implementation of 102 with forthcoming 18 more state-of-the-art Vertical Lift Modules (VLMs) at our global distribution centre in Texas, United States. This is the largest installation of VLMs in the world. VLMs — essentially giant vertical filing cabinets, complete with shelves and an automated elevator — each store tens of thousands of electronic components. When activated by the employee, the VLMs deliver the components directly to the workstation, vastly increasing efficiency and floor space. The automated machines can reduce an employee’s walking time by 45 per cent or higher.
This added capacity as an electronic component distributor allows us to pull and ship orders faster with higher levels of accuracy, which customers greatly appreciate. We continue to add new manufacturers to expand our product offerings, increase inventory levels and SKUs to give customers a vast selection of options.
Q Lastly, not to miss out specifically talking about India, Mouser India’s key focus and strategies for the indigenous market and specific trends shaping India’s electronic components market?
The current market for electronic components in India is benefitting from increased local manufacturing of electronic products. The ongoing rollout of 5G networks and the increase in IoT applications is also fuelling demand. Policies and incentives from the government, including initiatives such as Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities, and wider broadband connectivity, e-governance, and economic stimulus packages, are making a positive impact. With an office in Bangalore, Mouser’s India team as an electronic component distributor is available to assist with customer needs, offering service and tech support in the local language, time zone and currency.