Grainger customers, product and service suppliers converge at Florida conference
Attracting nearly 15,000 attendees and 600 supplier booths, the 2013 Grainger Show was the largest gathering of customers and dealers in its nine-year history. The event, held in March in Orlando, Fla., highlighted the company’s sustainability initiatives, product inventory management and e-commerce services.
Since last year, Grainger has significantly updated its e-commerce services, redesigning its website and mobile applications. CEO James Ryan told GPN that the company has made an “aggressive investment” in their e-commerce services. “Over 30 percent of our total sales now come from e-commerce and we predict that it will increase to as much as 50 percent of total sales in the near future, he said. ‘The federal government led the way with e- commerce, and that trend has trickled down to local city and county governments.”
Grainger also has begun experimenting with social media with its recently launched YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter pages that provide information about the company’s services. The previous mobile app was originally a catalog of its nearly one million products. With the new mobile app, customers can find and order products, view account pricing and check product availability. The mobile app also can be used to find Grainger branches, view product reviews and can be synced with the company’s website so the two can be used in conjunction.
Sustainability emphasis highlighted
Ryan also noted that Grainger offers four sustainability services: energy, water, waste and air. “In our own operations, we are constantly looking for ways to use resources wisely and reduce our impact on the environment,” he said. “We help our customers do the same, offering them a growing number of green products and services.”
He noted that the company’s sustainability programs are designed to help facilities manage energy costs, reduce waste and excessive water usage as well as improving indoor air quality. Granger offers lighting on demand using dimming switches, motion sensors and timing equipment to reduce the total number of hours that a light bulb is in use.
Ray Douglas, Director of Marketing Strategy Government and Healthcare, told GPN that Grainger operates more than 3.5 million square feet of LEED-certified space in 14 distribution centers, and the first LEED certified distribution center in Mexico. “If we are going to talk the talk, we have to walk the walk,” he said “LEED certification can reduce energy costs by 30 percent, water usage by 35 to 50 percent, and overall waste by as much as 90 percent.”
Emphasizing inventory maintenance and maintenance controls
Grainger executives also discussed the company’s inventory management and control of maintenance, repair and organization (MRO) products. They said that company’s research shows that 50 percent of MRO inventory of its customers has not been used in 12 or more months.
The company’s inventory management programs range from the KeepStock Label program using scanning to electronically track inventory, to the KeepStock scan program, which replenishes products based on the specific needs of the customer. The company offers eight KeepStock programs.
Grainger also said it is continuing its “Ready When the Time Comes” program, a partnership between Grainger and the American Red Cross, that focuses on disaster preparedness and recovery. Grainger also is continuing the “Tools for Tomorrow” scholarship program. With a focus on veterans of the U.S. armed forces, Tools for Tomorrow offers final-year students financial assistance for tuition and books, helping them earn their associates degree or certificate in an industrial trade at select community colleges across the country.