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Manufacturer vs. distributor: is it possible to get the best of both worlds?

30 March 2016

As e-commerce becomes ever more popular, there’s no denying that more engineers than ever are turning to the internet to source standard parts and machine tool accessories.

Often offered at competitive prices and with quick lead times, it’s easy to understand why. However, with so many online distributors to choose from, how do you know you’re getting a product you can trust?

Chris Putman, Sales and Marketing Director for WDS, explains why ordering direct from the manufacturer often allows you to benefit from the best prices, the best delivery times and the best product.

Often engineers wouldn’t think to source components directly from the manufacturer; assuming that it will be easier to order parts from a central resource rather than opening accounts with multiple channels. While it’s a completely valid view point, the fact remains that when you order from a distributor it’s highly possible that no two parts you order will be made in the same factory. This begs the question, is there a better solution?

While all respectable distributors work hard to ensure the quality of the components they source, they have no real control over the materials used and the manufacturing processes chosen. Trying to keep track of the quality of hundreds of different manufacturers all over the world is a hard task, and it’s inevitable that production standards may drop and faults develop in some product lines. Delivery lead times are also fickle, completely reliant on the stocking policy of the distributor and the manufacturing speeds of individual factories.

When you order direct from the manufacturer you are cutting out the middle man. For WDS, one of the key benefits offered is the control of quality with every production run and the ability to adjust production schedules to meet demand. If you phone on a Monday with an order, WDS can tell you the same day if it’s in stock and the precise delivery date. What’s more, you know that you will receive the exact part you ordered, not a substitute.

A further advantage of having in-house manufacturing and engineering expertise is that standard parts can be customised to meet bespoke requirements. Engineers can simply call the sales team and they will work in partnership with the production engineers to build a CAD model to reflect the customisation required. Then, once approved, the part will be added to the production schedule. While the benefits of ordering multiple products from a single source are undeniable, the benefits of ordering direct from the manufacturer are also highly valid. 

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