Q2: How are your customers responding to changes COVID has forced on them, and what are you doing differently?
Mark: We’ve certainly seen a lot of design engineers set up their bench at home. California, for example, has been badly hit with virus cases, but there is a lot an engineer can do from home. I think some of those design engineers are happy because they're sitting at home doing their work and nobody is disturbing them. Some testing might be a challenge to achieve at home, but some engineers appear to go back to the office lab just to perform specific tests before returning home.
Jeff: On that note we know that suppliers say they are having very effective calls with their customers on new design starts, using Zoom and Microsoft Teams etc. Calls appear to be very productive in that you can quickly navigate through the social introductions and get to the detail really quickly. Customers can have the right people on the call, so the decision-making process can move forward quickly. We think even suppliers have found that doing design work in a virtual setting actually works. Whether this is going to be the way it's done moving forward remains to see, but it is very clear that the design process hasn’t stopped because they can’t physically meet in the same room.
Mark: One key decision we took was to maintain our inventory levels. It’s probably not unique, but there's not a lot of distributors who have kept the inventory levels as high as ours. We have around $800 million in inventory at the moment, and we continue to focus on the breadth of inventory from all the suppliers, which means that it's there for the engineer to buy.
On one of our regular supplier calls, the CEO of one of our major interconnect suppliers commented that he believed that there is a tidal wave of innovation about to happen, and that it is a once in a lifetime opportunity that is driven by electronics. We share his thoughts. His insight resonates with what we’re experiencing at Mouser, we see a lot of potential for us going forward. There is a hotbed of innovation happening in engineer’s homes at the moment, and much of that will come out into the prototype stage soon. As we entered 2020, we knew that with 5G and other major market trends the next couple years would be good, but because of COVID, there are innovations in many other areas of our industry too.