Executive Briefings

Doubt Cast on Amazon's Ability to Move Into Distribution of Electrical Components

Brad Van De Sompele, president at Frontier Electric Supply in Bensenville, Ill., is one long-time member of the National Association of electrical Distributors who's not afraid of Amazon's advances into the electrical industry.

"It may sound funny to some people, but Amazon really just doesn't scare us very much," says Van De Sompele, whose firm doesn't operate in the commodity-driven world of contractor sales. "[AmazonSupply] could be a force on the commodity side, but I highly doubt it will have much success in our OEM world, where our customers still have a daily desire for engineering and technical support that is one phone call or email away."

Of course, Van De Sompele has been in the electrical industry long enough to realize that a company like Amazon will quickly wise up to the fact that it needs a technical support staff in order to attract and retain customers that want that "something extra" from their distributors. "I'm not naïve to believe Amazon won't dump a bunch of money and hire a bunch of engineers, but will it bring on product-specific experts that can come out to your location on Thursday? I don't think so," Van De Sompele states. "We're constantly getting calls from customers who need someone onsite within 24-48 hours to handle a problem. I really doubt that Amazon is going to be able to fulfill that kind of request."

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"It may sound funny to some people, but Amazon really just doesn't scare us very much," says Van De Sompele, whose firm doesn't operate in the commodity-driven world of contractor sales. "[AmazonSupply] could be a force on the commodity side, but I highly doubt it will have much success in our OEM world, where our customers still have a daily desire for engineering and technical support that is one phone call or email away."

Of course, Van De Sompele has been in the electrical industry long enough to realize that a company like Amazon will quickly wise up to the fact that it needs a technical support staff in order to attract and retain customers that want that "something extra" from their distributors. "I'm not naïve to believe Amazon won't dump a bunch of money and hire a bunch of engineers, but will it bring on product-specific experts that can come out to your location on Thursday? I don't think so," Van De Sompele states. "We're constantly getting calls from customers who need someone onsite within 24-48 hours to handle a problem. I really doubt that Amazon is going to be able to fulfill that kind of request."

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