It bothers me to search for a product I need for my design only to find the manufacturer’s web site with little or no information about the product. Dead-end sites like that waste my time as a development engineer, yet reluctantly will I pick up the phone and call the vendor asking for a sales rep.
Traditional RFQ are slow
Hours, days will go by before I get some answers whether the part meets my specification and cost budget. And hopefully I can have CAD models of the product, so I do not have to spend time creating my own CAD of the product. More progressive sites give me a PDF file for download. This makes it a bit easier to answer my questions before I go to a design review meeting. Having a datasheet is important, this is the first step to a sale. Having CAD helps to close the sale. Which is why I love using McMaster Carr where all that information is instantly available.
Give technical buyers what they want
Engineers are the tenacious type of people, they like to poke, take apart, consider “what if”, and above all they have questions. This is exactly what progressive OEM catalogs do – enable their users, the engineers, find the products, research the product and its alternatives. Taken a step further, we need data such as CAD files, instant quotes and of course for heavens sake, a shopping cart to buy the damn thing as needed.
Add 3D CAD models to your online catalog
According to a study by Engineers Rule, an early integration of a vendors part’s CAD model into the final bill of material results in a sale of that product with an 80 percent statistical certainty. This is a very high success rate, just based on putting the CAD models out there, into the hands of end users, that is the buying public, decision-making development engineers. Imagine what happens if an OEM online catalog comes with a manufacturer’s sales engineer standing by you, the customer, to answer any questions you may have. Would it make it easier to understand the product, would you buy the product then? This approach of offering no-nonsense product information, pricing, and CAD is a very powerful approach to modern industrial sales.
This is exactly why Amazon is winning. Offer convenience, uptime and decent pricing and you will have a strategy for the foreseeable future, a long way out.
Development engineers are under pressure to meet their deadlines, their projects are increasingly more complex and these folks have little time to reverse engineer somebody else’s product only to create a CAD model to fit into their own designs. Interactive online catalogs where an engineer can quickly find the part, learn about it, get its CAD files are very likely to be the trend of the near future. Backing it up with engineering support and you have a winning combo for OEM product sales. Yet, we have so many dead-end web sites created by manufacturers of their products, where the buyer at best can find a data sheet in a PDF format and some contact information. What is the point of all the flash and animation when the buyer cannot find the product or get the product data?
We want product data, not marketing
A simple reality is engineers do not look for web sites or manufactures; they look for products. Unfortunately majority of manufacturers’ web sites are dead-end. Perhaps manufacturers have a fear of providing CAD files and a fear of listing the price. This is common when a request for quotation (RFQ) takes a week, which is ridiculous for a part that costs a few dollars. The RFQ is more expensive than the product itself. No wonder we have a problem with long lead times and inefficient product pricing. I submit that taking advantage of the McMaster Carr’s distribution model will speed up product development cycles and secure a sale of OEM products for a progressive manufacturer.