2014 annual Grainger Show continues to impress

March 3, 2014
Some of this year’s show seminar topic highlights included: Inventory management program eCommerce; mobile apps Safety Environmentally friendly
More than 600 supplier booths were at the Grainger Show this year.

ORLANDO, FLA. — With the Polar Vortex still having a full grip on much of the northern tier of the U.S. last month, Grainger was opening the doors to its annual convention in the Sunshine State. Held Feb. 9-11 at the Orange County Convention Center, Grainger, the leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) products serving businesses and institutions, hosted approximately 15,000 visitors with more

In its 10th year, this was the largest reported show to date. “The format of the show is very valuable. And, with an organized floor plan, the intense traffic kept us busy,” said Randy Grebel, direct sales of plumbing wholesale at Bemis Manufacturing. Referring to the gathering of Grainger reps and their “preferred” customers — which included contractors, engineers, facility managers, etc. — in supplier booths, “It’s like having three legs to complete the stool,” continued Grebel.

Unique to the Grainger show — located in the center of the trade show floor — the more than 20,000-sq.ft. Grainger Town exhibit featured Grainger’s latest solutions to solve business issues. Customers learned about inventory management options in the “General Store,” safety in the “Building Under Construction” and sustainability in the “Public Works” building. In addition, Grainger’s e-commerce solutions, which included everything from mobile applications to order management systems, are highlighted in the “e-Commerce Store.”

The first day of the show offered exclusive opportunities for networking sessions and seminars, which ran throughout the show. The first session I sat in on was a media roundtable with Grainger CEO Jim Ryan. Grainger initiatives discussed included an emphasis on safety, e-commerce and mobile apps, sustainability, inventory and emergency preparedness.

“We understand the cost of doing business, and we want to make it more efficient for our customers to do so,” said Ryan. “We are a customer service company; great service is delivered by great people.”

Some of this year’s show seminar topic highlights included:

Inventory management program: Grainger provides a suite of inventory management solutions under its KeepStock offering. From customer-managed inventory solutions like labeling, scanning — from onsite to the back of your truck — and mobile capabilities to vendor-managed inventory solutions like on-site support, vending machines and on-site branches, the KeepStock program meets customers’ unique needs.

“We are solving problems for the productivity end game,” said Brian Giza, director of strategy and services development of inventory management at Grainger.

• eCommerce; mobile apps: Grainger’s eCommerce accounts for 33% of company sales, or more than $3billion in 2013. Grainger has introduced a number of enhanced capabilities that are improving the online customer experience, which, in turn, helps boost order conversion rates and increases average order size.

Using Grainger’s mobile apps, customers can log into their account, view pricing, confirm local product availability, approve pending orders and check out, and with GPS capabilities, find the product ready for pickup at the nearest Grainger branch or shipped directly to their office or jobsite.

“The entire Grainger catalog can be found on a mobile device,” said Geoffrey Robertson, Grainger’s vice president, eCommerce Strategy and Planning.

• Safety: According to CEO Ryan, “Safety is a big concern for our customers, and we are aggressively expanding our safety initiatives,” emphasized with Grainger’s December 2013 acquisition of Safety Solutions Inc., a Dublin, Ohio-based distributor of safety footwear, supplies and services with a strong focus on the manufacturing sector. 

Part of Grainger Town focused on safety since it's very important to customers.

“The acquisition extends Grainger's strong position in safety with a leading on-site safety footwear service and a unique benefit management program that tracks purchasing and compliance for customers," said Court Carruthers, senior vice president and group president, Americas.

To discuss safety from a plumbing contractor’s perspective, go to our new Plumbing Talk forum.

• Environmentally friendly: Grainger was the first industrial distributor to have LEED-certified facilities. Since 2008, Grainger has used the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building rating system to build and maintain more environmentally responsible facilities. On average, the USGBC estimates that LEED-certified facilities reduce energy use by 30%, decrease water usage by 30% to 50%, and generate waste cost savings of 50% to 90%. To date, Grainger operates more than 3.5 million square feet of LEED-certified space across 15 facilities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

In 2012, Grainger also became the first industrial distributor to publicly disclose its carbon footprint through the Carbon Disclosure Project. Grainger is among 3,000 organizations in 60 countries that disclose greenhouse gas emissions and climate change strategies with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

Recently, Grainger opened its new, 1-million-sq.ft. LEED platinum Minooka, Ill.-based distribution center, which serves as the company’s new central stocking distribution center and runs a state-of-the-art automated system that helps enable Grainger to deliver products same-day or next-day to its customers nationwide. The story on the distribution center can be found here

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