Revealing data on purchasing channels

Over the first few weeks of this year, many of you participated in a survey we conducted that asked you to share your experiences and preferences when purchasing cabling and cabling-related products and systems.

Over the first few weeks of this year, many of you participated in a survey we conducted that asked you to share your experiences and preferences when purchasing cabling and cabling-related products and systems. The survey dove fairly deeply into the use of traditional cabling distributors, purchasing directly from product manufacturers, and purchasing from online-commerce outlets that are not associated with our industry. Please accept my thanks to each of you who shared information with us.

The survey results, which I find to be revealing, are summarized in an article that you can read as soon as you flip this page. I make no bones about the fact that when putting the survey together, I was particularly interested to learn as much as I could about the extent to which professionals in our industry purchase products from online commerce sites that are household names (e.g. Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, Craigslist). And I was intrigued if not surprised to see that the products most commonly purchased through these sites include twisted-pair copper cable, plugs and/or jacks for twisted-pair cable, and patch cords. That combination of products kind of makes me think that some of those who aren't buying fully assembled patch cords online are buying the pieces needed to make their own.

It was more than a little ironic that when I presented these results to a group of industry vendors during a private meeting we hosted at the BICSI Winter Conference, I was just one thin wall away from a meeting of the Communications Cable and Connectivity Association (CCCA), a group that recently reached its 10th anniversay in existence and since its beginning, has emphasized the importance of purchasing products (particularly including patch cords) from known and reputable sources.

In that vein, one of the comments from a survey respondent has remained on my mind since I first read it. Participants were asked to grade the importance of several service offerings from cabling distributors. The question also allowed a narrative response detailing an important customer-service offering from a distributor. One professional offered this insight: "A reliable sales executive to manage the account. When the [expletive] hits the fan, who within the company is going to help you sort it out?"

If the answer to that question is "a chatbot," then it might be time to reassess your vendors, and the extent to which you rely on them.

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