Avnet Inc., a multibillion-dollar distributor of electronics, has a strong online presence with an ecommerce site that connects with customers throughout the world.
But yesterday it said it is sharpening its online focus on China, where it has launched the “Avnet Super Store” on 1688.com, a business-to-business marketplace operated by Alibaba Group. 1688.com hosts more than 10 million storefronts that connect suppliers from throughout the world with business buyers in China.
Targeting SMBs in China
Avnet’s 1688.com store will target small and mid-sized companies and take advantage of cloud computing services that Alibaba makes available through 1688 to help electronics engineers and developers in China to deploy such Avnet products as its Raspberry Pi 3 Model B/B+ single-board computer, a type of computer that I.T. professionals use to develop customized computing applications. Raspberry Pi is widely known among the electronics engineering community as an inexpensive computer with the footprint size of a credit card that engineers can deploy in a wide range of ways—such as to power a customized industrial robot or a newfangled device to capture digital photographs of machinery in operation.
“Through our alliance with Alibaba Cloud, developers in China can accelerate their internet-of-things prototyping on a familiar and versatile platform with built-in cloud connectivity,” says Nishant Nishant, vice president of digital at Avnet. “By giving them easy access to feature-rich products that integrate hardware and cloud, plus experts in the Avnet ecosystem that can help them overcome the challenges of scaling to production, Chinese developers will be able to take their IoT solutions to market faster than before.”
Avnet and Alibaba announced Avnet’s 1688 store in China yesterday at Alibaba’s Apsara Conference in the Hangzhou Cloud Town exhibition center. Other U.S. companies with stores on 1688.com include manufacturers Dow Chemical, Michelman, 3M, Bosch, Honeywell and Stanley Black & Decker.
Investing in IoT applications
Avnet also sells to customers throughout Asia through the Asia-Pacific portal on its own ecommerce site, Avnet.com, which processes sales to customers worldwide. Overall, Avnet says it sells to more than 2.1 million customers and 1,400 suppliers in 125 countries.
In another move to build its presence with IoT products, Avnet last week said it would acquire Witekio, a developer of software and systems designed to help technology developers build IoT applications. Avnet didn’t say what it is paying for Witekio, which was formerly known as Adeneo Embedded.
The Witekio deal followed Avnet’s December 2018 acquisition of Softweb Solutions, which develops cloud-based software to connect, manage and analyze data.
Pete Bartolotta, president of business transformation for Avnet, says the acquisitions of Witekio and Softweb will help Avnet to more rapidly deliver sets of hardware and cloud software designed to provide data insights on the needs of businesses according to their specific operations.
For its fiscal year ended June 29, Avnet reported total revenue of $19.5 billion, up 2.5% from the prior year. It doesn’t break out ecommerce figures, but it has said ecommerce is a growing sales channel. Premier Farnell, an Avnet company that sells through the B2B ecommerce site Newark.com, has said it does more than half of its $1 billion-plus sales online.
Alibaba has also been expanding its own presence in the United States, where it has been working with Office Depot Inc. and other U.S. companies to build sales volumes through its Alibaba.com B2B marketplace.
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