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HomeTechnologyKeynote Spotlight: Grainger CEO DG Macpherson on serving the customer in digital...

Keynote Spotlight: Grainger CEO DG Macpherson on serving the customer in digital B2B


DG Macpherson, CEO, W.W. Grainger Inc.

Today’s B2B customer, thanks to ecommerce and related digital technology, is all-encompassing. And because of the internet and the increasing presence of the digital-first business buyer, customers are in constant contact with their suppliers across multiple channels.

The state of business-to-business digital commerce these days is all about serving the digital buyer—and doing it better than the competition.

Those are market conditions W.W. Grainger Inc. and CEO DG Macpherson know well—and topics Macpherson will address during his keynote session at Digital Commerce 360’s upcoming in-person event, EnvisionB2B Conference & Exhibition, premiering June 8-10 at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago. Macpherson’s keynote: “Digital Commerce: Starting with the Customer in Digital B2B,” will debut on Thursday, June 9, from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. Central Time.

In this keynote address, Macpherson will share how this 95-year-old company faces the challenges of today and continues to evolve its business to meet customers where they are now while building for where they will be tomorrow. Customers increasingly demand highly tailored solutions that enable them to manage their businesses effectively and efficiently, a trend only intensified by the ongoing pandemic.

Providing a personalized, relevant, and effortless experience is not only expected but necessary in the B2B marketplace. The challenge is big, but so is the reward. No company knows that better than Grainger, which generates more than 70% of its multibillion U.S revenue through “high-touch” full-service digital channels.

For the year ended Dec. 31, Grainger increased total sales by 10.4% to $13.02 billion from $11.79 billion in 2020, as sales increased by 18.4% at the online-only Endless Assortment business of Zoro.com and MonotaRo.com.

“Over the last two years, we’ve developed new product information, publishing, customer information and marketing support systems,” Macpherson said on a Q4 earnings call with investment analysts. “We continue to improve our technology capabilities to help us win in the market. Our Endless Assortment segment continues to grow as we made progress on our strategic initiatives.”

Endless Assortment, which includes Zoro.com and Japan based MonotaRo.com, is Grainger’s online-only business.

Grainger said its High-Touch Solutions business, which offers more extensive and personalized services and includes its sales through its flagship ecommerce site Grainger.com and its sales reps, increased sales year over by 10.5% to $10.18 billion in 2021 from $9.22 billion in 2020.

But the fastest growing channel was Endless Assortment. In 2021, sales for Endless Assortment totaled $2.57 billion, up 18.4% from $2.17 billion in 2020. “Zoro U.S. achieved its full-year SKU count goal, adding over 2.5 million SKUs this year alone, which brings a total assortment to 8.7 million SKUs,” Macpherson told analysts. “We’ve expanded to new customer segments and new categories driving both new and repeat business. And in 2021, MonotaRO opened the Ibaraki distribution center in Japan, allowing them to stock high-demand items locally with plans for another DC Japan in 2022.”

Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact Mark Brohan, vice president of B2B and Market Research Development, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @markbrohan.

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