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A world on lock-down

Neil Tyler talks to Ian Wallace, Director, EMEA Business Development at Digi-Key Electronics about how distributors are managing to cope with unprecedented times.

It’s a critical time for many companies around the globe so my first question to Ian Wallace was what impact was the coronavirus having on delivery times and how much are they being extended by?

“At Digi-Key, our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by COVID-19 worldwide, and our primary concern is for the health and safety of our team members, customers and business partners.

“While the COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving and we don’t know all of the impacts yet, we do know that our business model positions us with substantial inventory to offer minimal disruption to our customers, and we have worked closely with our multiple carrier partners to mitigate impact on cargo plans.

“We’re providing updates and FAQs on our website for our customers and we’re in constant communication with our suppliers.

“While these are unprecedented times, we’re working to monitor the situation with suppliers and we're getting updates regularly so we can provide any changes in lead times and pricing to our customers.

“Factories in China are slowly getting back up and running, and while it will take some time for them to be back to full production, Digi-Key will continue to invest heavily in providing inventory for our customers.”

Ian Wallace, Director, EMEA Business Development at Digi-Key Electronics

NT: Turning to other challenges Brexit still looms large. Even if, in the light of the coronavirus, it is delayed what have you, as a distributor, been talking to customers about in terms of how it could impact supply chains and what are companies looking to do to prepare or pre-empt any problems?

“While the world doesn’t know all the implications of Brexit yet, we haven’t seen a dramatic impact but will continue to monitor it closely. We do know that our customers want and need solid, reliable supply chain partners so they can continue to deliver to their customers.

“Digi-Key’s focus is on consistency and continuity and providing the broadest selection of products and high levels of inventory - more than 10 million products globally, with more than 2.2 million in stock from over 800 quality name-brand manufacturers.

“Customers ordering online can count on their order to be picked, packed and shipped out in 20 minutes, arriving to them in just 48 hours to the UK and that’s not going to change.”

NT: Digi-Key is now offering online scheduling. What is it and why have you introduced this?

“Now available for our European customers, online scheduling provides customers the convenience to plan and place orders up to six months out in their local currency.

“For contract manufacturers, OEMs and other customers seeking quantities above and beyond their normal engineering or prototype quantities, Digi-Key’s new online scheduling helps to manage planning and deliveries. Online ordering helps customers to streamline project planning, take advantage of lower prices at higher price breaks, and secure future product stock in advance.

“To get started, they simply need to register online.

“We implemented online scheduling based on customer demand for it, and we encourage customers to continue sharing their feedback and insights so we can best support them now and in the future.”

NT: What is the impact of the new Incoterms 2020 on distributors like Digi-Key - what implications/costs/benefits will customers see?

“At Digi-Key, the four Incoterms we currently use – DDP, CPT, FOB and FCA – have only minor changes and will not be noticeable in delivery service, and therefore shouldn’t cause any disruption or issues for our customers.”

NT: In terms of these business challenges is Digi-Key changing the way it operates?

“Digi-Key’s business model and commitment to providing the broadest selection of products and high levels of inventory to support customers with what they need when they need it, combined with an online model and customer service, will not change because they all contribute to a reliable and consistent customer experience through challenging times.

“In fact, we’re doubling down on this approach and continue to invest in our customers and in the future through new tools, support, adding more than 200 new suppliers and 300,000 new products, and building an expanded 2.2 million square foot Product Distribution Center that will provide even more power, automation and efficiency for our customers.”

NT: Are there any specific challenges or issues, beyond Brexit, facing distributors operating in the UK?

“Brexit and COVID-19 have been the challenges recently in the UK and globally, but again, our Digi-Key business model puts customers first, ensuring we can be the reliable, dependable supply chain partners they need.

“There will always be challenges, and we will always continue to put our customers first and evolve our support and tools to deliver the products and service they know from Digi-Key.”

Neil Tyler

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