Sourcenginebreadcrumb separatorResource Articlesbreadcrumb separatorProcurementbreadcrumb separator
Where to Buy Electronic Components Online

Where to Buy Electronic Components Online

A professional buyer looks frustrated while staring at a bill of materials (BOM) at their work desk.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2022. It has since been updated for accuracy.

Professional buyers can save time, energy, and money by buying electronic components online.

Purchasers can acquire parts without playing phone tag or endlessly exchanging emails with their sales reps. They can also use web-based stores to snap up various microelectronics from vendors worldwide. Ideally, they can use e-commerce sites to acquire microelectronics that would otherwise be inaccessible locally or hard to find.

However, shopping for electronic parts online is not without pitfalls.

Many online platforms come with drawbacks that make them inefficient or disadvantageous. Other web-based marketplaces cannot facilitate purchasing at an enterprise level. Some can raise the risk of introducing counterfeits to your supply chain.  

Knowing your options - and the tradeoffs - is critical. Let’s look at the different ways companies can buy electronic components online.

Table of Contents
1. Online Electronic Component Marketplaces
2. Manufacturer Websites
3. Electronic Component Aggregators
4. Non-specialized and Hobbyist E-commerce Platforms
5. Some Factors to Consider When Choosing a Seller

Online Electronic Component Marketplaces

Electronic component distributors and their e-commerce marketplaces have revolutionized purchasing for electronics over the last several years.

For original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), contract manufacturers (CMs), and electronic manufacturing service (EMS) providers, this is the most advantageous option, as online distributors offer competitive pricing and can offer more flexibility for proprietary supply chains. Distributors operate many online electronic component marketplaces, with thousands of vendors posting part offers on the site regularly, making it easy to find a large number of components.  

Similarly, with quantity comes the discussion of quality. Despite hosting millions, if not billions, of product part offers, high-end online electronic component marketplaces will possess ISO 9001 certification to deliver customers with genuine and authentic components. This prevents counterfeits from slipping into a supply chain as purchases undergo rigorous testing through a certified quality management system (QMS) when bought.  

Manufacturer Websites

These days, most leading chipmakers maintain e-commerce shops that allow customers to purchase items directly from their warehouses. For some, this online procurement method offers peace of mind. By acquiring parts from the source, OEMs can easily avoid the risk of bringing counterfeit materials into their loading docks. It is also reassuring to do business with a long-established brand.

However, acquiring products from a manufacturer is not an ideal way to shop for electronic components.

Electronic devices and equipment require several components to function, meaning buyers must fully engage with multiple chipmakers to stock their inventories.  

In addition, some chipmakers have not updated their websites to allow online ordering. Searching a company’s active portfolio within seconds is considerably better than flipping through a mail-order catalog.

But without e-checkout capability, manufacturers’ sites only have limited utility. The exact manufacturer will always depend on the components you are looking for.  

Electronic Component Aggregators

Electronic component aggregators offer procurement specialists another way to shop for semiconductors online.

These aggregator sites present supply chain management (SCM) personnel with a wide range of part listings from thousands of vendors. For every manufacturer part number (MPN) entered, aggregators provide customers with different prices, lead times, and vendor data. That means buyers can use these platforms to source a bill of materials through one interface.

Because they function like specialized search engines, aggregators allow for a much more efficient workflow than looking for parts individually.

However, these sites are not designed to facilitate transactions like search engines. Instead, these platforms provide links to manufacturer web stores where the components can be purchased. That functionality is acceptable for rush orders of specific items but less than ideal for complex projects.

Non-specialized and Hobbyist E-commerce Platforms

Electronic components can be found on non-specialized or hobbyist e-commerce platforms. These platforms are usually global, with large and extensive product lists that go beyond electronic components, including anything from leisurewear to groceries.  

For procurement specialists in a pinch, non-specialized and hobbyist sites can be an appealing option for electronic component procurement. Part offers on these sites are usually cheap and have short lead times. During the 2020-2022 global semiconductor shortage, several manufacturers turned to these e-commerce platforms to obtain stock they had gone weeks without.

Unfortunately, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  

Non-specialized and hobbyist e-commerce platforms do not possess the same level of certification or expertise that online electronic component marketplaces have. Many, if not all, do not maintain ISO 9001 certification and lack a structured and standardized QMS to prevent counterfeits from being sold. Often, counterfeiters eager to take advantage of an OEM, CM, or EMS provider in need will advertise components for cheap with quick delivery rates on these sites to find buyers.  

In 2021, during the height of the semiconductor shortage, an OEM facing continued production losses from a lack of electronic component stock turned to a non-specialized site to order components. The result was a shipment of counterfeit components that didn’t even function. Unfortunately, this is buyers' most significant risk when purchasing from a non-specialized or hobbyist site.

While it might appear like a viable option in a pinch, buying directly from the manufacturer or a distributor certified with ISO 9001 is better.

Some Factors to Consider When Choosing a Seller?

When choosing a seller to procure electronic components from, it is essential to consider several factors. Remember, just because a site may rank highly in one area does not mean it is the greatest or safest offer. An online seller should have good rankings in all three areas:

1. Price

Procuring electronic components heavily revolves around making decisions based on price. Finding the best price offer for electronic component stock contributes to a buyer’s decision-making process. Throughout the electronic component shortage, prices were exponentially high due to disruptions impacting component availability. Prices are steadily dropping as the chip glut contributes to rising excess inventory.  

If some prices are excessively low, usually found on particular platforms, it is best to weigh the lost costs against the security of the e-commerce site.  

2. Lead times

The global electronic component supply chain is prone to disruptions such as natural disasters, geopolitical volatility, and macroeconomic pressures. As a result, these disruptions can have far-reaching ripple effects that impact numerous manufacturers within the supply chain. This greatly affects electronic component lead times.  

Lead times are in a consistent state of flux. Depending on the distributor and supplier relationship, some online distributors can offer shorter component lead times on stock than others. Sometimes, buyers can work with their distributors, who communicate with their suppliers to get stock faster than the advertised lead time. It is essential for buyers looking to obtain stock in a limited time frame to see if an online distributor has a partnership with a specific manufacturer.  

3. Certifications

Counterfeit parts are growing in sophistication. As the tools used to detect counterfeits grow more exceptional, so do the suspect electronic components they detect. Unfortunately, counterfeit components have been slipping into production lines due to the global semiconductor shortage.

To avoid the risk of purchasing counterfeit components, buyers should ensure that the only distributor they procure stock from is ISO 9001 certified. ISO 9001 certification establishes a standardized QMS process by which organizations can be certified after demonstrating the ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements. Companies report that the ISO guidelines help them organize processes, improve process efficiency, and continually improve.  

Sourcengine is Your Marketplace

Sourcengine is the world’s leading electronic component marketplace, offering over one billion parts from 3,500+ traceable and vetted suppliers. Sourcengine is the ideal solution for all electronic component sourcing needs.

As a digital procurement powerhouse, Sourcengine offers several vital supply chain management tools for buyers to utilize on their purchasing journey.

This includes Sourcengine’s integrated digital BOM management tool, Quotengine, with expansive capabilities for SCM and purchasing, including parts lists with up to 4,000 included parts, easy BOM scrubbing, FFF alternates and DIRs, and real-time notifications for stock availability.

Furthermore, Sourcengine’s parts procurement API makes purchasing components and scheduling future deliveries for professional buyers simple. Sourcengine’s API can integrate into your enterprise resource planning (ERP) or material requirements planning (MRP) system to query multiple data points around availability for millions of parts at a time.

To protect you from counterfeits, Sourcengine maintains strict ISO 9001 certification with a rigorous QMS process to affirm the authenticity of any component sold through its marketplace. Sourcengine helps users avoid counterfeit and faulty parts so that users only receive the best.  

Ready to purchase electronic components online? Search our site for your needed parts or send our experts an RFQ for your personalized quote.

Quotengine: Your Ultimate BOM Tool
With Quotengine’s real-time data on over 1 billion part offers, managing your BOM effectively has never been simpler.
Upload Your BOM
What’s Your Excess Worth?
Real-time market data, quick response time, and unique price offers to help you maximize your return on excess inventory.
Get an Estimate
The Last Integration You’ll Ever Need
Streamline manual processes and gain real-time access to inventory data, pricing updates, and order tracking through Sourcengine’s API
Sign-up Here
Sourcengine’s Lead Time Report
Strategize for upcoming market shifts through lead time and price trends with our quarterly lead time report.
Download now
Sourcengine’s Lead Time Report
Strategize for upcoming market shifts through lead time and price trends with our quarterly lead time report.
Download now