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2012’s Top 10 Blogs Highlight Grainger, Amazon, MSC & Fastenal’s Big Market Moves

Most popular blogs focused on e-commerce, mobile, vending and channel relationships.
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Many of the national distributors made big moves in 2012, and interest in what they were doing was reflected in the blog posts that got the most attention on mdm.com over the past year.

Here are the Top 10 most popular blog posts from 2012 on mdm.com:

1. 3 Observations on Amazon’s New Industrial Marketplace, AmazonSupply.com
Amazon.com announced a big push into the B-to-B space in 2012 with its launch of AmazonSupply.com. This blog highlights my initial impressions of the move, including why it was good timing on Amazon’s part and whether an amazon.com experience will work for B-to-B.

Publisher Tom Gale’s blog on the impact of AmazonSupply.com also rated high in 2012. Read that here: AmazonSupply: What’s the Impact?

2. Grainger’s Approach to Mobile
Grainger announced its mobile website in early 2012; it was officially launched in November 2011. Later in 2012 Grainger announced a new mobile app. Interest in this blog post and follow-up coverage on Grainger's mobile moves highlighted distributors' interest in how they could use mobile in their own businesses.

3. Amazon, Grainger Focus on Taking Operations to the Next Level
Amazon has plans to aggressively build out a much larger distribution network in the U.S. and internationally, which could have an impact on its ability to serve customers more quickly – in fact, Amazon may even be able to do same-day service in some markets. Grainger has also made better operational efficiencies a priority. I examine their approaches to operations in this popular blog.

4. MSC Takes Aim at $4 Billion by 2016
Associate Editor Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier writes about MSC Industrial Supply’s plans to grow quickly over the next four years. In an investor call, MSC’s leaders outlined how they would double in size to $4 billion in sales by 2016, and what the growth drivers would be.

Read about MSC’s long-term plans to grow to $10 billion: From $2B to $10B – MSC Industrial Supply’s Roadmap

5. Vending Becomes a Key Component of Growth for MSC and Fastenal
MSC Industrial Supply and The Fastenal Company have made vending a priority, expecting the service to play a key role in their growth over the next several years. Fastenal in particular has zeroed in on vending, growing the number of machines it’s installed rapidly over the past couple of years. This approach is increasing customer stickiness, making it more difficult for that customer to walk away.

6. Distributor Makes Charging for Services Work
Industrial distributor Valin Corp. spoke with me this year about how it has made services a profitable and critical part of its long-term growth plans. The distributor is focused on finding the most profitable opportunities within its markets and building a model that allows it to carve out a dominant position.

7. Grainger: ‘We’re Not Close to Being Done with E-Commerce’
Grainger won’t let its position as a leader in distribution e-commerce cause it to let down its guard. Recently, Grainger spoke about its plans to continue pushing the envelope online, with a goal of increasing levels of integration with customers to make it easier to do business with Grainger.

8. A Framework for Finding Cost Control Opportunities
Distributors have a lot of things to think about when it comes to growing and maintaining their profitability. George Schwartz of Capgemini’s Distribution Practice spoke at the start of 2012 at the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors annual meeting about how distributors can find cost control opportunities within their businesses by looking at six categories.

9. China Surpasses U.S. as World’s Largest Manufacturer
Speaking to concerns over the increased globalization of markets, Associate Editor Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier writes about a study from the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) that found that manufacturing value-add in China in 2010 was $1.92 trillion, and in the U.S. it was $1.86 trillion. But, as she writes, those numbers don’t tell the whole story.

10. Speaker: ‘Partnership’ Doesn’t Describe Most Distributor-Manufacturer Relationships
And finally, the 10th most popular blog post on mdm.com in 2012 highlights the ongoing challenges distributors have to collaborate more effectively with their suppliers. MDM covered this topic extensively in MDM Premium in 2012 and will continue to examine trends in channel management in 2013.

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