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What May Mean for Independent Distributors

An analysis of Amazon's biggest move yet into industrial markets

May 10, 2012 recently launched, a B-to-B website with more than 500,000 products across 14 categories in industrial and lab supplies. This article, with input from distributors, manufacturers, service providers and industry consultants, examines the potential impact of Amazon’s move into industrial markets. MDM also outlines the next steps for distributors looking to compete more effectively in an increasingly crowded market.

With a broad product offering, name recognition and years of e-commerce best practices under its belt, Amazon and its new industrial marketplace – – should not be discounted as a competitor to independent distributors.

That’s what many industry consultants, distributors and manufacturers say about Amazon’s recent announcement that it would serve the B-to-B market in a formal and more aggressive way by selling more than 500,000 industrial and lab supply products across 14 categories at

While Amazon has been growing its sales of these products over the past few years, signals a much more serious intent to compete in industrial and commercial markets.

The Details
Amazon is capitalizing on what Grainger, MSC and other large MRO distributors call “unplanned spend” for MRO supplies. Grainger in the past has put the percentage of unplanned spend for MRO as high as 75 percent of all purchases in the category. That’s a huge opportunity.

It’s also homing in...

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