Industry Insights

Supplier spotlight: DigiKey

DigiKey is a renowned global distributor of electronic components. Based in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, the company initially emerged as a small enterprise selling digital keyer kits. Over the decades, DigiKey has evolved into a key player in the electronic components distribution space, offering a vast array of products, from semiconductors and interconnects to sensors and electromechanical devices. Its robust online platform and efficient logistics system facilitate quick and reliable delivery, making it a preferred partner for engineers and procurement professionals around the world.

DigiKey began in 1972 when Dr. Ron Stordahl started selling the ‘Digi-Keyer’ – a kit for ham radio operators that helped transmit Morse code. That led to selling components – first to electronic hobbyists and then to the commercial market. Two decades later, the company introduced its first website, paving the way for DigiKey to become the successful e-commerce company it is today, with the industry’s most visited and top-rated website.

At any given time, over 1,900,000 products are available and prepared for dispatch from DigiKey’s headquarters, ensuring that there are no lead times for in-stock items.

The expansion

In 2022, DigiKey opened its 2.2 million sq. foot Product Distribution Centre expansion (PDCe), one of the largest warehouses in North America.

“The opening of our Product Distribution Centre expansion (PDCe) in 2022 was a huge milestone,” notes Ian Wallace, Vice President, EMEA, DigiKey. “The new facility expanded our headquarters’ footprint by 204,400 square metres for a combined total of more than 278,709+ square metres.”

The new facility, which is the size of 22 football fields, allows DigiKey to pick, pack, and ship nearly three times the previous daily average packages to customers in more than 180 countries around the world. DigiKey currently can process 36,000 orders a day and around 170,000 details (the individual parts).

The new facility is nearly fully automated, the only task that is truly done by hand is the actual picking of parts. Among the racks of components, carts are wire-guided so that the only thing a cart driver will have to worry about is where to stop. The wire-guided system will save more than 10% of time and is significantly safer.

The PDCe features two primary conveyor systems to provide redundancy in the case of a breakdown and provide opportunities for future growth. There are over 27 miles of automated conveyor belt in the new facility, and an average order will travel more than 3,200 feet inside the building.

The distribution model

As a franchised distributor, DigiKey focuses on providing the largest selection of electronic components and automation products for customers to realise their ideas. It offers a suite of value-added tools and services that help customers accelerate their ideas and products to market.

“The combination of supporting the customer’s technical needs, stocking the right products, having the right relationships in place, and possessing the experience to navigate design issues sets us apart,” said Wallace.

Although supply chain challenges have been rampant throughout the industry since the pandemic, DigiKey closely monitors global design activities in the engineering community. With the recent uptick of new product introductions and design starts, its procurement team has increased purchasing.

“We work closely with our trusted suppliers worldwide to ensure inventory availability during times of high demand, even when traditional distributors have found it challenging to keep up with their inventory pipelines.

“Our suppliers deserve tremendous credit for their tireless performance over the past few years. The supplier community has surpassed expectations, identifying new, innovative ways to increase their supply and provide customers with the necessary parts while keeping communication lines open for us to transmit delivery updates and information to our customers,” said Wallace.

DigiKey has always been proud to work with suppliers who truly understand the importance of supporting engineers and makers globally with their products so they can create innovative designs and projects daily.

“We continue to anticipate being the go-to distributor that supports the future’s designs,” states Wallace.

In 2023, DigiKey added considerable inventory depth to offer the industry the widest product availability for immediate shipment, and it received great customer response with Q1 EMEA customer growth surpassing expectations by doubling historical quarterly trends.

A supplier you can trust

DigiKey’s commitment to quality and traceability leads the industry, claims Wallace. “We only buy directly from our more than 2,900 quality, name-brand manufacturers to ensure each component is new, authentic, and fully warrantable under the direct supplier and that accurate, up-to-date technical information is readily available.”

For each of DigiKey’s more than 15.3 million components, the company holds documentation valid for 10 years that proves its traceability and authenticity.

Additionally, all suppliers undergo a comprehensive qualification process prior to partnering with DigiKey. The distributor regularly assesses supplier performance, and supplier controls are continuously monitored and inspected by quality and certification teams and by a third-party auditor to ensure they continually meet DigiKey’s high-quality standards.

“We have an incredible global team that helps ensure consistency from our marketing messages to our customer service, down to our product availability in each region,” said Wallace. “While every country and region have specific rules and shipping restrictions, we strive to offer everything we can to each region.”

For areas with significant shipping restrictions, such as the EMEA region, DigiKey has worked hard to offer additional technologies through its DigiKey Marketplace that provides access to ordering and receiving products within the same geographic region.

Beyond the products that accelerate technology innovation, DigiKey also supports engineers with numerous digital solutions and tools to make their jobs more efficient. It publishes hundreds of articles, blogs, webinars, and videos on its website, and it has other digital assets, such as the TechForum, for problem-solving and site for projects and ideas.

It has also launched an Innovation Hub as a web immersive experience to help introduce engineers and designers to DigiKey and its products and services within the industrial sector, which focuses on solutions for robotic arms, AGVs, and conveyor belts.


DigiKey understands that the business choices it makes today directly impact the company’s future success and viability, as well as its global community’s future.

“We are committed to positively impacting the world by prioritising innovation, quality, and environmental stewardship,” notes Wallace. “Through innovative practices, standardised certifications, and collaborative partnerships, we are dedicated to minimising our carbon footprint, conserving resources, and enhancing the wellbeing of the communities we operate in. From our supply chain to our operations, sustainability drives us to create a brighter future for many generations to come.”

Speaking of the future…

To prepare for the future, DigiKey will continue listening to the customer and proactively address their requests. It will also continue to make the investments necessary to ensure that it has the tools, technology, and capacity to service customers at a high level.

“The world is becoming increasingly digital, and as things scale, we need to continue to ensure that we’re doing everything we can in a frictionless digital environment.

“Our purpose in EMEA is to accelerate progress for engineers, designers, and buyers while making interactions with DigiKey easy and efficient. We are laser-focused on superior execution and customer experience in 2024,” concludes Wallace.

“For 50 years, DigiKey’s focus has centred on accelerating progress for every engineer, designer, and builder. Our updated look and feel reflects that inspirational progress, our leadership position in the industry and our commitment to digital experiences and solutions that move goods and ideas forward.”

Dave Doherty, President, DigiKey

Key Facts:

  • Headquarters: Thief River Falls, Minnesota
  • Global reach: 180+ countries
  • Number of employees: 5,000+
  • Number of suppliers: 2,900+
  • Customers: nearly 1 million
  • Facilities: over 278,000 square metres
  • Products available: 15.3 million+
  • Websites/Content: 21 languages

The mission

“DigiKey has always been customer-driven and quality-focused. Continuous improvement and ongoing statistical analysis of processes are integral to our business approach, making DigiKey a world-class, high service distributor of electronic components.”

Ian Wallace, Vice President, EMEA, DigiKey

This article originally appeared in the May issue of Procurement Pro