Kevin Hess of Mouser Electronics brings along an impressive three decades of experience in blending
marketing & technology for the electronics component distributor giant. His expertise has helped Mouser’s evergrowing global customer base of engineers and buyers. In this exclusive interview with Niloy from BISinfotech, Kevin Hess discusses the new world of content-driven marketing aimed at innovators and engineers, and the compelling need to adopt emerging technologies such as AI and ML to be competitive in the busy electronics component distribution market. Edited excerpts follow.
For many years Mouser Electronics has been a formidable player, an industry leader in the electronics component distribution business. What has sustained this unblemished performance record?
Our biggest difference, as a distributor, is that we are primarily focused on engineering design support and supply assurance. Mouser’s mantra is to enable innovation by helping engineers design and develop with the latest technologies, while also offering the widest selection of 100% certified, genuine electronic components from over 1,200 manufacturers across the globe. We provide flexibility for smaller volumes to support engineering design as well as production shortages. Our customers don’t have to buy thousands of pieces — they can buy 10 parts or even one component, and we will ship it. Lastly, our extensive library of technical resources gives them the information they need to help speed their designs. Interestingly, some engineers won’t design with components until Mouser has it available. Once we start selling a part, engineers believe it is legitimate and can be assured of its quality and availability once they get to production.
You bring to the table three decades of remarkable experience in blending marketing and technology. How has your expertise helped Mouser’s ever-growing global customer base of engineers and buyers, especially in Asia?
We are a global distributor with a focus on local service. We may be headquartered in Texas, but our teams know how engineers in China will think and how Indian engineers will think and how we should go to market to service them. In the end, it comes down to real people and their real needs. That’s why we have expert marketing teams around the world, who understand the local culture and how to appeal to them. Mouser’s marketing is intent driven; this helps us to appropriately message our buyers, no matter where they are in the world. When we address engineers, we send out relevant information covering the latest technologies to help them make the best decisions when selecting components. If we know their preferences for certain manufacturers, we can send information from those manufacturers, to make implementation easier for them.
You have helped Mouser expand its business into Asia. Moving forward, where else is Mouser planning to launch in the Asian region to further expand Mouser’s catalogue and NPIs?
I think we have covered almost all the countries. There are not many more places we need to establish new offices.
Over the years Mouser has become the single most important source for product information & purchase. How do you aim to further help design engineers reduce their overall time to market?
Our website is a self-service website. You don’t have to call anyone to place an order, though you certainly can. Mouser offers a full suite of purchasing tools to make ordering effortless, and an extensive library of technical resources like product data sheets, supplier-specific reference designs, application notes and technical design information. Mouser’s Technical Resource Centre is aimed at speeding design for engineers. And we understand how designs are created. Our extensive data shows how engineers build their carts and check out — this can happen within a week or could take more than six months as the design keeps progressing. And we are there throughout, with the engineer, to aid that process through better selection and easier access, right up until the final BOM is made and the customer checks out. Our goal is to make sure anything engineers need is available for them on the Mouser website.
Apart from furnishing a lot of product information, how have you curated technical information to help engineers design and build with? Is that a part of marketing?
It is certainly a part of our marketing. We invest considerable resources and effort every year to come up with original technical content. We have in-house marketing engineers and specialists to cater to regional interests.
So, if we know that something is popular in China, we write expressly to fulfil that demand. For India, we might write very differently to respond to distinct demands. Along with our team in Texas, we have a large team
in India that custom builds the microsites that customers land on when they visit our website. We invest in original technical content because we are not just trying to sell a part — at Mouser we believe our role is
to drive innovation in design by informing and educating designers, engineers and buyers.
India stands as the third largest start-up ecosystem in the world today. How can Mouser accelerate the start-up ecosystem, especially on the hardware innovation front?
Start-ups are incubators of progressive concepts and innovation. They excel at efficient implementation of frugal resources while being able to economize on design. Start-ups spawn new ideas that are changing the character of industry, from agri-tech to biotechnology, from robotics to automation. We absolutely believe that we must invest in and be a part of the progress that is being ushered in by the innovators and professional engineers in the start-up eco-system. In India, we are connecting and partnering with prototype centres such as T-Works, which is one of the largest prototype centers in India. We have associated with incubation hubs such as DERBI in Bangalore and Kerala Start-up Mission for opening Mouser Innovation Lab to support R&D. Our involvement with innovators and design engineers will have multiplier effects and is expected to influence the market over the next 5 to 10 years.
How vital is the Indian market for Mouser Electronics today? With the digital tribe shaping indigenous businesses, what are Mouser’s key marketing strategies to cater to new channels of real-time demands?
Ultimately, it seems every customer will be buying online. Everybody wants to have that Amazon experience, where they can go online, do their own research, navigate and buy the products that meet their requirements. We know that Texas Instruments (TI) is getting into the digital space — reducing the need for a distributor between themselves, the manufacturers, and their customers. The same strategy will probably be adopted by many more manufacturers. But it will be difficult for them to cater to 650,000 customers as we have been doing. As a distributor, our role is to aggregate supply and demand, smoothing out kinks in supply, as well as fluctuations in demand. We stock millions of components from over 1,200 manufacturers. So, to me, it’s even
more important now to be a digital distributor. This allows us to be global yet local, or ‘glocal’, delivering the latest innovative components from across the world while bringing laser-sharp precision in catering to local demands for innovation in design. If you think back 15 years ago, nobody knew about Mouser in India or China. But with the advent of digital, the world is getting smaller rapidly, and Mouser has a footprint in Asia. And we are growing. There is a lot that goes on to achieve that. It’s not easy to do. Globalization started 15 years ago, and we are still working on it.
E-commerce companies are using advanced technologies. Is Mouser using any immersive technology to help customers?
Whatever information we communicate to the customer is dynamic. We use a significant amount of AI to communicate with customers with specific information based on their geographic location and unique demands. We know who is interested in automotive, or IoT, and we can use data and AI to choose dynamically from our vast repository to deliver the most relevant content. We can build specialized emails for them based on interests. Probably within the next few years, you would see real-time marketing on the website. You would come to the Mouser website and see new products based on your interests and preferences. We believe we can leverage AI to build an effortless buying experience and bring better value to customers.
According to you, what is shaping the electronics component market today? As a leading distributor, how is Mouser adapting to these transformations?
We see sharp upward trends in automotive, industrial automation, IoT,machine learning, and sensors. And power is big right now — everything has to have power. Mouser has always been focused on New Product Introductions, so we have the latest technologies available to our customers to integrate into their designs. The most compelling feature of our distribution model is that whatever our customers need, and whatever advances the manufacturers are coming out with, we aim to have it in stock, ready to ship. Mouser is nimble and flexible, one of most flexible distributors in the world, which means that whenever our customers demand from us to start growing, we start growing with them.
What has the growth of Mouser Electronics been in the last few quarters? What are the key marketing strategies of the company in the coming quarters?
We grew by a billion dollars last year — from $2 billion to $3 billion. We expect to grow by another billion this year, and we should end up over $4 billion this year. The first two quarters of 2022 were crucial, and quarter
two was especially good. Trends for the rest of the year look extremely encouraging. We should be close to double-digit growth next year. Supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic had built up a backlog for every
distributor, but we are coping well, and our backlog is starting to catch up because manufacturers are delivering.
Mouser has the advantage of a growing number of designers, engineers, and companies buying from us worldwide. We don’t rely on a small set of customers to grow our business. We have over 650,000 customers buying worldwide from us, and a wide variety of customer types. Our opportunity to grow lies in the domain of innovation; when companies come out with new products or engineers come out with new designs, that’s where we see ourselves making a difference.
Mouser offers a full suite of
purchasing tools to make ordering
effortless and an extensive library
of technical resources like product
data sheets, supplier-specific
reference designs, application
notes & technical design