A Web-based Test Equipment Locator
San Bruno, CA
One of the most frustrating jobs an engineer must face is selecting and locating a piece of test equipment to meet a specific demand among the myriad of offerings by hundreds of equipment manufacturers and the many varying performance specifications. It was inevitable that the now ubiquitous World Wide Web would ultimately provide the solution to this time-consuming problem. TestMart™ is a unique new online service that lists more than 13,000 products from 200 manufacturers in more than 90 categories of test equipment and provides a means for side-by-side comparison of their performance specifications, price and availability. The user can now use this information to determine whether to buy, rent or lease new, used or refurbished equipment in an extraordinarily efficient manner.
The TestMart site provides answers in seconds to questions that previously required hours or even days to research. In addition, the service offers application assistance from experienced engineers to answer many of the user’s questions. When the decision is made to acquire the sought-after equipment, the site provides information on which manufacturers make which equipment in side-by-side views and what price trade-offs are available. It even allows the user to purchase the item online in many cases.
Obviously, this type of universal database is only as good as the data it contains. TestMart maintains an unbiased site for all equipment manufacturers. (TestMart covers the cost of maintaining the site by negotiating agreements with various manufacturers that allow the site to maintain neutrality. These agreements may include commissions, acting as a virtual distributor or warehousing some TestMart-owned stock. However, the cost is never passed on to the buyer.) The buyer is offered free membership and registration is not required until he or she makes the acquisition. Once membership has been established the user has the ability to search the data at will, request additional literature and quotes from listed manufacturers and even purchase online from participating suppliers. In many cases direct links are provided to the manufacturer’s own Web site.
Maintaining such a comprehensive database is a daunting task. The database is constantly updated and expanded as new participating companies sign on and new data become available. Information is provided on products from all manufacturers whether or not they have chosen to affiliate. Powerful search engines enable the user to access all sources in the database and locate products that meet his or her specifications quickly. Figure 1 shows the results of a search for a particular type of spectrum analyzer. Detailed specifications are presented in a normalized format, providing for clear and complete side-by-side comparisons. Figure 2 shows a typical product comparison for a series of power meters.
All data are contained within the site, thus eliminating the time-consuming process of gathering and piecing together incomplete information in dissimilar formats from multiple sources. In addition, users can perform parametric searches specific to each product category. The CompareSpecs feature presents side-by-side product comparisons. TestMart’s proprietary Similar Products search function, FindLike, retrieves products that are engineering equivalents based on key technical parameters. The BuyOnLine function offers online shopping with secure transaction processing and order confirmation for new, demo and refurbished equipment. TestMart also acts as a distributor and sales representative for many manufacturers of new products and maintains a large inventory of refurbished test equipment. Customers can trade in or sell their unused equipment using TestMart’s Sell Online function. The TestMart Equipment Want List guarantees customers a market price online in real time.
One of the added features of the site is the Active Partnership Program, which makes available full-text articles from leading publishers and industry analysts. In addition, exclusive test and measurement market reports from Frost & Sullivan appear on the site. The Web site also features comprehensive reference tools, including calibration interval information and product introduction and out-of-support dates for more than 10,000 test products. The Industry Directory provides information on more than 500 manufacturers while the Calibration Labs Directory, shown in Figure 3 , lists more than 1600 calibration laboratories worldwide. A searchable library of hundreds of application notes from major manufacturers is also available online. Finally, the Glossary contains thousands of definitions and acronyms.
In short, the TestMart Web site should be the first stop for anyone trying to select the proper piece of equipment from a long list of available choices or locate information pertaining to a specific piece of test equipment, its specifications, use, price and delivery. For test equipment manufacturers and vendors TestMart provides equal access to an efficient, neutral marketplace for their products that can augment their existing marketing efforts and Web initiatives. Using TestMart, manufacturers can increase their exposure while avoiding the costs traditionally associated with selling their products through direct means and through manufacturers’ representatives.
TestMart is located on the Web at www.testmart.com and is offered free of charge for interested users. Locating and selecting test equipment have never been easier.
TestMart, San Bruno, CA (650) 624-0525.