At the recent Grainger Show in Orlando, the company highlighted its broad package of MRO supplies for the safety market; its disaster recovery efforts in the recent hurricanes and fires; its growing emphasis on digital commerce; and the new inventory management services that are part of its KeepStock program for end users. An estimated 12,000 Grainger customers, vendors and company employees filled a big chunk of Orlando's Orange County Convention Center. Seven hundred exhibitors were on the 450,000-sq-ft show floor.
With an estimated $1 billion-plus in sales of electrical equipment and related job-site supplies to electrical contractors and facility maintenance personnel, the electrical market is big business for the Lake Forest, IL-based W.W. Grainger Inc. The electrical segment represents 15% to 20% of the company's 2017 total annual sales of $10.4 billion. There were plenty of familiar brands at the Grainger Show, including electrical lines like Acuity, Current by GE, Eaton, Fulham, Hubbell, Ideal Industries, Philips Lighting, Schneider Electric, Siemens and Shat-R-Shield, power tool manufacturers like Milwaukee Tool, DeWalt and Bosch, and all sorts of personal protection equipment. In addition to these brands, the company’s well-known private labeled products were also on display, including its Dayton motors and HVAC equipment, and its LumaPro lighting products that are part of its GC Choice program. According to a post at www.mypurchasingcenter.com, the company now privately labels thousands of products under its Grainger Choice brand, including “215,000 products in more than 32 categories such as HVAC and refrigeration, material handling, safety, cleaning, pneumatics, motors, hand tools and electrical.”
The more than 5,000 contractors and facility maintenance personnel who were invited guests of Grainger salespeople learned more about the company’s online ordering options which now account for more than 60% of its total annual business and the growing array of its KeepStock inventory management services. Through KeepStock, Grainger’s customers can stock and manage inventory in their facilities through several different types of vending machines loaded with MRO replacement supplies and a tool-crib management programs.
Grainger has made some major modifications to its service offerings and branch network to keep up with customers’ evolving purchasing habits, which have swung strongly to shopping online. In fact, over the past 10 years Grainger has reduced the number of its U.S. branches from 411 in 2006 to 254 in 2016, according to its Factbook, and orders originating at branches now account for just 11% of its total sales. Eighty-five percent of its order are delivered directly to customers and not picked up at the branches. In addition to the digital orders, the company says 22% of its purchases originate over the telephone.