Avnet Inc., a Phoenix-based global distributor of electronic components with nearly $20 billion in annual sales, sells throughout the world under its Avnet and Premier Farnell brands, including online sales through Avnet.com and Farnell’s Newark.com. Although it doesn’t break out ecommerce sales figures, it notes that Farnell, with sales of $1.46 billion for the fiscal year ended June 29, 2019, processes about 70% of its orders through ecommerce.
Avnet recently announced that it is selling into the China market through a storefront launched on 1688.com, a B2B ecommerce marketplace operated by China-based Alibaba Group.
Following are questions on Avnet’s 1688 strategy that B2BecNews posed to Nishant Nishant, Avnet’s vice president and global head of digital:
Q: Please comment on what Avnet sees as the potential and expected size of the market, in terms of number and types of customers, in China accessible via 1688.com.
Nishant: China is a massive market for Avnet, and Alibaba has a commanding presence there. 1688.com itself has over 37% of market share in B2B commerce, making it an ideal fit for us to reach SMBs in the market. We believe that this partnership will drive more exposure for Avnet, and as such we anticipate a greater share of mind and share of wallet among Chinese SMB customers.
Q: How long did it take Avnet to deploy the Alibaba 1688.com storefront?
Our local teams and partners in China helped to ensure the success of deploying the Avnet Super Store on 1688.com. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, we were able to launch in less than two months.
Q: How do you manage product data and merchandising to present accurate product descriptions in a way that is appealing and helpful to buyers in China?
Avnet is no stranger to the market in China; we’ve been serving customers there for decades and have developed a strong and successful operating model for our customers in the region. As a result, we’re able to provide our customers there with the information they need to make the right purchasing decisions as they develop their devices.
Q: How do you handle order fulfillment, and do you take special steps to account for China’s method of taxing online sales?
With our long history of serving China, Avnet has a strong and successful operating model, including fulfillment, for customers there. 1688.com gives us a new storefront that allows our existing businesses in China to serve a new, expanded customer base of small and mid-sized businesses.
Q: How much of your product inventory are you selling through 1688.com?
As of the launch, we have identified a select group of products sold by Avnet that we believe are amenable to 1688.com’s customer base. We encourage customers to stay engaged with the Avnet Super Store for any new products that become available via 1688.com.
Q: How will selling through 1688.com differ from selling through Avnet’s Asia Pacific storefront on Avnet.com? Are you targeting more and different types of customers in China through 1688 that you don’t usually see on Avnet.com’s APAC portal?
1688.com brings Avnet to a wider range of customers, specifically SMBs in China. Our Avnet Super Store gives SMBs in China 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 internet-of-things—IoT—solutions to market faster than before.
Q: How will your customers benefit from Alibaba Cloud’s comprehensive suite of global cloud computing services on 1688?
One of the first products we’re offering on the 1688.com Super Store is the Alibaba Cloud-enabled Raspberry Pi 3 Model B/B+ computer, which is sold as a bundled kit. Customers will receive a Raspberry Pi 3 that connects to Alibaba Cloud, as well as access to the Alibaba Cloud to develop and support their IoT applications.
Q: Does Avnet also sell through Alibaba.com to reach other markets?
Our partnership with Alibaba.com is specifically targeted to customers in China.
Q: How many markets does Avnet sell online in worldwide?
Avnet is a leading global technology solutions provider, reaching customers around the world. We have specific online portals for customers in Asia-Pacific, Americas and EMEA markets to ensure we can deliver our products and support to multiple markets across the globe.
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