April 18, 2014, 12:11 PM

For W.W. Grainger, the web’s share of sales keeps rising

For the first quarter, the distributor of maintenance, repair and operations supplies racked up $834.97 million in e-commerce sales, or 35% of total sales. That’s up from 33% as of the end of 2013, the company says.

Lead Photo

Jim Ryan

W.W. Grainger Inc. pulled out a strong finish to a first quarter hit by severe weather in January and February, as strong sales in March resulted in an increase in total sales of about 5% over the year-earlier quarter. “We are particularly encouraged by the performance of our U.S. business, which was driven by continued market share gains with large customers,” CEO Jim Ryan says.

Also helping to buoy up sales gains was Grainger’s increasingly strong e-commerce channel, which accounted for $834.97 million, or 35%, of total sales of $2.386 billion for the quarter ended March 31, the company says. Total Q1 sales were up 4.6% from $2.280 billion in the year-earlier period.

The web’s 35% share of total sales in Q1 continues a steady share increase in recent years, up from 33% of total sales as of the end of last year and 30% as of the end of 2012, a spokesman says. The company doesn’t provide year-to-year changes in quarterly e-commerce sales.

For the full year 2013, e-commerce sales accounted for $3.11 billion out of total sales of $9.44 billion, as e-commerce sales grew 16.0% and total sales grew 5.5%% over 2012.

The company also reported for the first quarter:

● Net earnings of $216.65 million, up 2.3% from $211.84 million a year earlier;

● Total sales in the United States of $1.897 billion, up 6.9% from $1.775 million. Extreme weather over much of the U.S. in January and February disrupted sales and caused a 1 percentage point drop, but overall Q1 sales were strong among customers in manufacturing, natural resources, retail and commercial businesses;

● Total sales in Canada of $254.30 million, down 10.2% from $283.14 million. Increased sales in Canada to customers in utilities, forestry, transportation and reseller markets were more than offset by declines in the construction, manufacturing, mining, retail, government, and oil and gas industries;

● Total sales in its Other Businesses category, which include sales through its Zoro Tools unit and from Grainger’s businesses in Mexico and Japan, rose 10.9% to $274.91 million from $247.87 million;

Grainger is No. 15 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, which ranks companies by their annual web sales.

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