You’ve probably heard about electronic parts aggregators and e-commerce marketplaces. For many sourcing professionals, the terms seem interchangeable. After all, they both provide parts search features, pricing information, and delivery times to support your purchasing decisions.
That’s true – but that’s where the similarities end.
Both aggregators and e-commerce marketplaces offer electronic components for OEMs or contract manufacturer in one place. But the ability to actually transact accurate, timely purchases (based on your specific project demands) from one environment only exists with an e-commerce marketplace.
In order to fully differentiate the main features between electronic parts aggregators and e-commerce marketplaces, we compiled two different purchasing scenarios, each with specific processes related to the respective environment.
Let’s take a look at typical parts sourcing situations to further illustrate how parts aggregators and fully functional e-commerce marketplaces differ.
Your project is coming down to the wire. Thanks to a last-minute design change request from your customer, you need to order parts today – preferably yesterday. You visit a parts aggregator website, enter the part number, and are given a list of compatible parts, each with different sourcing distributors, prices, lead times, and so on.
So far, so good. However, you need to actually transact and purchase your parts as well. While aggregators give you all the available parts, things get complicated afterwards. On the available parts list, you find a part that fits your time frame and pricing requirements. A click on the part from the aggregator website sends you directly to the distributor or manufacturer. At this point in the transaction, you’re now out of the aggregator environment and interacting with the distributor or manufacturer's site.
In this scenario, part quotes, purchases, and tracking take place outside your original aggregator sources. For a few parts, that’s not a big deal. For more complex projects, this can mean an intricate project that requires delicacy and extreme attention to detail. That’s not to say that aggregators are without their benefits for less involved projects, however.
Some advantages of parts aggregators:
· Consolidated, updated vendor info
· Optimal search results
· Efficient layout of prices, vendors and offer data
· Great resource for e-procurement personnel (all levels)
· Help sourcing professionals “own” their part of the SCM process
· And many others
Aggregators are ideal for searching and sourcing electronic components, assuming you have plenty of time to deal with extra online “churn,” in terms of additional ordering environments, multiple sources, and organizing optimal global offers on your end. E-commerce marketplaces take the extra step with single environment efficiency and a host of other features. Let’s see how e-procurement is processed with global, online marketplaces.
In contrast to sourcing electronic parts from an aggregator, an e-commerce marketplace offers comprehensive, fully capable transaction possibilities all within the platform.
Once a part number search is initiated in an e-commerce marketplace, you’ll be presented with multiple offers from multiple sellers, all across the globe. This intuitive tool will help you identify sellers, price, lead-time information and helpful information for each component, such as packaging type, available units, price per item, units to purchase, and total value of the purchase in a user-friendly package.
But that’s not all – intuitive filtering tools add an additional level of precision to your order. These filters include offer preference (best offer, lowest price, fastest delivery), availability status (lead time or stock), vendor (factory direct or franchised distributor), packaging condition, packaging type, and more. Based on your current project, you might be concerned with immediate availability; for others, the best possible offer may be the critical criteria. Whatever your project sourcing needs, e-commerce marketplace tools and resources have you covered.
Unlike traditional parts aggregators, a typical e-commerce platform gives you more information to make informed, accurate purchasing decisions. Three key components of this data include:
· Alternative part availability – If your original P/N doesn’t meet your price or delivery time criteria, our e-commerce supply chain software automatically displays alternate parts immediately available for purchase. You can rest assured that these alternate parts meet or exceed the original part specifications.
· Extended technical information – With e-commerce marketplace tools, you’ll know the story behind your electronic parts, presented upfront on our interface. This is particularly useful for engineers, designers, V&V personnel, and researchers. We also provide data sheets, test reports, instructions for use / assembly, and other useful data. While aggregators have this information, it is not readily available; it takes multiple clicks, additional hyperlinks, and (at times) dead-end links to outdated material. Don’t take chances with your data sheets – get the most accurate, up-to-date information with our e-commerce marketplace software.
· Compliance information – With different electrical and safety standards across the globe, are you sure your electronic components meet local market requirements? An e-commerce marketplace is your single source for all relevant compliance data, immediately available for viewing before you make your purchase. Many project timelines are compromised by this small yet critical detail.
These two typical scenarios above bring into sharp focus the main differences between a parts aggregator and e-commerce marketplace:
· Direct transactions. An e-commerce marketplace allows you to search and transact directly in-platform, in less clicks. Search, source, and select from multiple sellers in one environment – this is the main difference between aggregators and an e-commerce marketplace. Plus, you can view electronic components offers for OEMs or contract manufacturers in one place. E-commerce marketplaces partner with stocking distributors, integrate this inventory into a database, and place these components on an e-commerce platform.
· Complete bill of material integration. With shifting deadlines, constantly changing priorities, and a fluid price structure for all of your project parts, it’s difficult enough to compile your source information. Your bill of material (BOM) can change – how does that impact your parts sourcing process? In the“good old days” (which, incidentally, weren’t so good for aligning BOM data with invoices and purchasing documentation), each BOM line item was over-analyzed to identify any updates to quantities, part numbers, delivery times, etc. Imagine how easier e-procurement would be if you could upload your BOM into a fully capable e-commerce marketplace. A next-level supply chain software analyzes built-in macros and other customized elements in your BOM. Once your data is in a system and columns are properly mapped, current electronic parts data links with your BOM line items. You can transact BOM items for optimal pricing and delivery – and as a result, your project's deliverables will stay on track!
· Map out your organization all within one system. The e-commerce marketplace goes above and beyond traditional parts aggregator functionality with organization-based roles, permissions, and functions. Assign, restrict, and control your entire supply chain purchasing organization on your terms. These tools include password reset capability, notification settings, role-based or regional purchasing customization, and much more.
· Order scheduling up to one year in advance. E-commerce marketplaces enable just-in-time shipping, thanks to a regional distribution network. Order your entire quantity now, and schedule remaining delivery for additional items at dates that optimize your production needs. Instead of sitting on parts for weeks or months at a time, an e-commerce marketplace supplies your parts on an as-needed basis, even if you’ve ordered up to one year ago.
· Direct communication to distributor & manufacturer ERP systems. Even without a purchase order (PO) number, API endpoints in with powerful marketplace databases automatically access customer enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. When you order, there’s no need to manually enter the PO number in your own ERP. This live, real-time communication between the e-commerce marketplace to individual distributors and manufacturers truly sets e-commerce marketplaces apart from parts aggregation systems.
The ability to transact and quickly select, source, and purchase electronic parts is the big advantage Sourcengine’s™ e-commerce marketplace provides over traditional aggregators. However, there are some additional benefits you’ll get with our streamlined, super-efficient e-commerce marketplace. These advantages include:
· Do-it-all dashboard. Transacting dozens, hundreds, or thousands of electronic components requires accurate data and powerful visualization tools. With Sourcengine’s e-commerce dashboard, everything you need to stay current with your SCM is included. Order history, scheduled orders, saved shopping carts, supply management resources and more – Sourcengine’s dashboard empowers any user with an impressive array of sourcing tools. For example, our BOM history feature shows historical pricing data for any BOM across a given time frame. This enables purchasing agents, designers, and other users to obtain useful pricing data points from past dates, which helps predict and anticipate optimal ordering in the future.
· Multi-discipline efficiency. While regular parts aggregators enable your team to view pricing data and other information, do they allow everyone to participate on a level playing field? The electronic parts ecosystem of our e-commerce marketplace means any Sourcengine user can sort, analyze, and order accessories, regardless of their role. Our users include Sourcing Professionals, Distributors & Component Manufacturers, Engineers & Designers, Academics & Researchers, and much more! Whatever your particular process is along the supply chain management structure, Sourcengine’s top-notch e-commerce ecosystem empowers everyone to fully optimize their SCM experience. It’s a win-win for everyone involved – including your own customers!
· Elimination of regional boundaries. An e-commerce marketplace redefines the traditional relationship between buyers and sellers. With Sourcengine, boundaries simply don’t exist, thanks to a worldwide network of electronic parts manufacturers and distributors. This functionality extends to scheduled shipments (see above), further reducing operating costs.
Learn more about the advantages of Sourcengine’s e-commerce marketplace today. See how our supply chain software supplements traditional electronic parts aggregator functions. Schedule a demo or contact us to get started.
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