The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

March 10 2010

Volume 40, Issue 5

Volume:

40

Issue:

5

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Features
GraingerConcept
Grainger has long been known as ahead of the curve in its e-commerce initiatives. Here's an in-depth look at the $6.2 billion MRO distributor's journey and the lessons it learned along the way. This is part of an MDM series on trends in doing business electronically.

Today, Grainger is widely recognized as a leader among distributors in B2B e-commerce. But that wasn't always the case.

The launch of Grainger's first electronic catalog in 1995 marked a shift for the now $6.2 billion distributor of maintenance, repair and operations supplies. After all, the payback of such a move was still unknown, and that uncertainty could have prevented the heretofore "conservative" company from delving into that arena.

"The fact that [Grainger commissioned a team] to do this was unheard of at the time,"

Grainger's investments into e-commerce 10 to 15 years ago don't look like large gambles today, but as our lead article by associate editor Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier illustrates, it was in fact a large dollar amount for what the adoption rate was at the time and also the company's culture. I was publicly skeptical at the time, questioning whether it was bleeding edge rather than leading edge. How smart was I?

As the timeline illustrates, Grainger's online sales took off with the dot-com era by 1999. It has continued to scale up along with the Internet.

MDM recently spoke with United Stationers President and CEO Dick Gochnauer about why the master distributor bought MBS Dev, a small Denver-based software provider for distributors. The move was part of a long-term strategy to help both its resellers and the technology providers that serve them to stay on top of capabilities necessary to stay competitive in today's online environment.

In February 2008, United Stationers President and CEO Dick Gochnauer told MDM the master distributor was well on its way to better integrating its customers – which it calls "resellers" – electronically through e-commerce, online marketing, and data tools and services.

The Deerfield, IL-based distributor of office, jan-san, and industrial

Bill Delaney, president of family-owned specialty building products distributor Distributor Service Inc., Pittsburgh, PA, and current president of the North American Building Material Distribution Association (NBMDA) recently spoke with MDM Associate Editor Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier about the association, and trends, challenges and shifts in the building materials industry.

Delaney's father founded Distributor Service Inc. in 1968; Delaney grew up in the business, which was a traditional two-step distributor serving independent lumberyards. During the 1980s, the company transitioned to industrial products and customers.

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GraingerConcept
Grainger has long been known as ahead of the curve in its e-commerce initiatives. Here's an in-depth look at the $6.2 billion MRO distributor's journey and the lessons it learned along the way. This is part of an MDM series on trends in doing business electronically.

Today, Grainger is widely recognized as a leader among distributors in B2B e-commerce. But that wasn't always the case.

The launch of Grainger's first electronic catalog in 1995 marked a shift for the now $6.2 billion distributor of maintenance, repair and operations supplies. After all, the payback of such a move was still unknown, and that uncertainty could have prevented the heretofore "conservative" company from delving into that arena.

"The fact that [Grainger commissioned a team] to do this was unheard of at the time,"

Grainger's investments into e-commerce 10 to 15 years ago don't look like large gambles today, but as our lead article by associate editor Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier illustrates, it was in fact a large dollar amount for what the adoption rate was at the time and also the company's culture. I was publicly skeptical at the time, questioning whether it was bleeding edge rather than leading edge. How smart was I?

As the timeline illustrates, Grainger's online sales took off with the dot-com era by 1999. It has continued to scale up along with the Internet.

MDM recently spoke with United Stationers President and CEO Dick Gochnauer about why the master distributor bought MBS Dev, a small Denver-based software provider for distributors. The move was part of a long-term strategy to help both its resellers and the technology providers that serve them to stay on top of capabilities necessary to stay competitive in today's online environment.

In February 2008, United Stationers President and CEO Dick Gochnauer told MDM the master distributor was well on its way to better integrating its customers – which it calls "resellers" – electronically through e-commerce, online marketing, and data tools and services.

The Deerfield, IL-based distributor of office, jan-san, and industrial

Bill Delaney, president of family-owned specialty building products distributor Distributor Service Inc., Pittsburgh, PA, and current president of the North American Building Material Distribution Association (NBMDA) recently spoke with MDM Associate Editor Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier about the association, and trends, challenges and shifts in the building materials industry.

Delaney's father founded Distributor Service Inc. in 1968; Delaney grew up in the business, which was a traditional two-step distributor serving independent lumberyards. During the 1980s, the company transitioned to industrial products and customers.