Despite the lingering economic slowdown, especially in the industrial sector, some of the largest and most successful distributors continue investing in technology, a strategy we emphasized earlier this year in 2016 Distribution Remodel: ‘Invest or Die’.
A handful of distributors, many of which rank at or near the top of MDM's 2016 Market Leaders lists, are seeing those investments pay off. We've detailed some of their successes in recent blogs.
- MSC's Website Increases Sales & Customer Stickiness – E-commerce accounted for 59.1 percent of total sales in the fourth quarter for MSC Industrial Supply Co., Melville, NY, according to Erik Gershwind, president and CEO. The company credited 4Q growth to the positioning of the mscdirect.com website and the stickiness it is creating with customers, Gershwind said.
- Watsco Reaping Benefits of Tech Investment – Watsco Inc.'s commitment to improving the shopping and ordering capabilities for customers led to increased cash flow, sales and profit in the third quarter, according to CEO Albert Nahmad. Watsco has created more customer stickiness by building "innovations to enhance the buying experience of our 88,000 customers and the service capabilities at our 568 locations," the company said.
- E-Commerce a 'Bright Spot' for Grainger's 2Q – Before retiring this year, former CEO Jim Ryan told MDM that capital investments in technology are especially critical when revenue is down and end markets are hurting. "But this is not only an opportunity to be different; it’s an opportunity to move forward faster,” he said. Despite some softness for the company, e-commerce sales continue to grow.
- Applied Banks on New Website for Turnaround – A disappointing fiscal 2016 saw sales and profit declines at Applied Industrial Technologies, but the company didn't hesitate to invest in a new website designed to give customers a "better user experience," President and CEO Neil A. Schrimsher said. The site "provides an additional, highly productive channel for current and new customers."
- HD Supply Corrects Supply Chain Issues – Not all technology improvements are outward facing. HD Supply has engaged in a "supply chain transformation through digitally enabled performance (that) will remove friction points concurrently improving our customers’ overall experience, accelerating profitable growth and reducing cost," said CEO Joe DeAngelo.