W.W. Grainger. Inc. is a Fortune 500 industrial supplier based in America. The company was founded by William W. Grainger in 1927 in Chicago to provide a consistent supply of high-quality motors to consumers.
Over the years, the company has grown to become one of the top industrial suppliers. Today, it has over 3 million customers through a network of approx. 598 branches as well as online channels.
Besides motors, the company also offers lighting, fasteners, tools, plumbing, safety supplies, and material handling, along with technical support and inventory management services.
In 1995, the company launched its official website with an electric catalog, which was later evolved into an eCommerce site. In 2011, Grainger North America’s 11th largest eCommerce retailer.
At present, the majority of Grainger orders in the US originate through a digital channel. Orders are shipped directly to buyers or made available on the website.
Why Grainger is so successful?
Grainger is a reputed, growing company in the distribution sector. But what’s the reason behind the company’s success? Let’s find that out.
- Strong distribution channels
Grainger has an exceptional distribution channel. It has set up stores in important locations that are equipped with professional staff and experts. Not just that, but it has gone beyond physical locations as well.
What we mean is that the company has set up an e-commerce platform that helps strengthen its distribution channel. Instead of interacting with sales reps, customers can directly see the prices online.
- Effective operations
Grainger has over 1 million products, but it has not slowed down the company. Instead, it has effectively managed its operations system and emerged as a market leader in the distribution industry. Companies like Grainger are great distributors that cannot be copied by other average distributors.
- Excellent customer segmentation
As a leading company, Grainger recognizes the different needs of different customers. This is why it groups customers based on their needs. By doing so, the company can serve the customers better. Grainger has three customer groups – large, medium, and small.
While medium-sized customers are handled by a salesperson or access a physical store, large customers have a salesperson who works with them in the field. As far as small customers are concerned, they place their orders through the eCommerce website.
Grainger might be one of the top industrial suppliers, but it is not the only company in the field. There are many other leading players in this sector. That being said, let’s check out the top Grainger competitors or alternatives.
1. WESCO International
We are starting the list with WESCO International. Inc., which is a publicly-traded Fortune 500 holding company. Founded in 1922, WESCO International is one of the largest multinational electrical distributors based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This company specializes in electrical, MRO (maintenance, repair, and operating), communications, OEM (original equipment manufacturer), and industrial products. Additionally, they also deal in advanced supply chain management, construction materials, and logistic services.
The company has over 30,000 suppliers, 18,000 employees, and 150,000 customers worldwide. Its customer base includes industrial businesses, commercial giants, government agencies, utilities, institutions, contractors, and telecommunication providers.
Currently, the company has 500 branches and 10 fully automated distribution centers in North American and international markets.
The specialized distribution service is what makes WESCO stands out from its competitors. It helps customers locate specific industrial, lighting, and automation tools. They have over 1 million products, including data connection equipment. The company is known to deliver high-quality products to its customers daily.
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Anixter International Inc. is an American company with its headquarters based in Glenview, Illinois. It was established in 1957 and specializes in goods and services for security, audio-visual, industrial control applications, networking, and communications.
The company has three primary divisions: Electrical and Electronic Solutions, Utility Power Solutions, and Network & Security Solutions.
Before 2011, it had a fourth division called Aerospace Hardware. But that was sold by Anixter to Greenbriar Equity in 2011.
The company has over 500,000 products. It works hard to ensure that business stays connected with the fast global speed of commerce. Data, security systems, voice, and video are all connected with Anixter products, which include fasteners, cables, and other specific tools.
For easy distribution, the company has over 300 warehouses across 50 countries. In 2002 Anixter bagged the title “Platinum 400” by Forbes.
In January 2020, Anixter was acquired by WESCO International for a value of $4.5 billion in cash and WESCO stock.
3. Arrow Electronics
Next up, we have Arrow Electronics, a Fortune 500 company that specializes in the distribution and value-added services related to computer products and electronic components.
The company was founded in 1935 in New York City. Today, it has its headquarters in Centennial, Colorado. The company ranked No. 104 in the Fortune 500 list 2022 in terms of revenue.
Arrow Electronics is one of the leading companies in the world. It adds revenues by providing extra value to add-on services. From computer products to semi-conductors, it offers high-quality products to customers. Besides that, it also offers engineering and design assistance to customers.
The company provides materials planning, and even contract to manufacture, and inventory management with any order. Currently, it has a presence in 85 different countries through 400 sales locations.
4. Ingram Micro
Established in 1979, Ingram Micro is one of the largest distributors of IT products and services. The company is based in Irvine, California, and has operations in over 150 countries through 1300 suppliers.
Supply chain management and business intelligence complement their distribution efforts. It helps the company to have more of a global presence. To be more precise, around 60% of the company’s total sales come from outside the U.S.
Ingram Micro is a leading solutions provider for the Global IT Ecosystem. They maximize the value of the technology products that they make, use, or sell.
With its global infrastructure and specialty technology solutions, it enables its business partners to operate more efficiently in the areas they operate.
Additionally, Ingram Micro also deals in IT Asset Disposal, Repairs Services, and Reverse Logistics to improve environmental sustainability through responsibly repurposing e-waste. This is done by refurbishing, recycling, and reselling technology products.
Graybar is an employee-owned corporation based in America. It was founded in 1869 and has its headquarters located in Clayton, Missouri.
It specializes in a wholesale distribution business for communications, electrical, and data networking products. It also offers logistics and supply-chain management services.
It is a rank holder in the Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. corporations. The company was incorporated in 1925, as the successor company of the electric supply business of the Western Electric Company, which was established in 1869 by Enos M. Barton and Elisha Gray.
Graybar focus on the electrical components of what a business requires. It has more than 240 warehouses all across the United States. Compared to its competitors, Graybar offers faster distribution.
Even financing and equipment leasing is also possible through this company. The majority of the customer base in the U.S. is related to construction and telecommunications.
6. HD Supply
HD Supply is an American industrial distributor that was founded as Maintenance Warehouse in 1974 in San Diego, California. In 1997, it was purchased by Home Depot. Later in 2004, the company changed its name from Maintenance Warehouse to HD Supply.
In 2007, HD Supply was purchased by Bain Capital, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, and The Carlyle Group. These private equity firms let the company operate under its name HD Supply.
The company deals in a wide range of products and value-added services. It has over 500,000 customers in repair and operations, maintenance, specialty construction, and infrastructure and power sectors. For your information, the company was re-acquired by Home Depot in 2020.
As a leading company in the industry, HD Supply believes in improving the lives of its associates and equipping them with the tools to offer an excellent customer experience every day. HD Supply is currently, one of the largest distributors in the North American market.
It has over 44 distribution centers across 25 states and two Canadian provinces. It has approx. 200,000S SKUs featuring high-quality products at competitive prices.
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Airgas is an Air Liquide company that was founded in 1982. This America-based company is a supplier of medical, industrial, and specialty gases. Besides that, it also deals in hard goods and other related items.
This is one of the largest suppliers of safety products in the U.S. It is also a leading provider of process chemicals and ammonia products. The company has its headquarters located in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania.
It has over one million customers in the United States. It sells a wide range of products including safety products, atmospheric gases, welding supplies, dry ice, ammonia products, process chemicals, industrial, specialty, and medical gases.
More than 18,000 employees are working for the company and they are based in different industries. This includes energy and chemicals, non-residential construction, metal fabrication and manufacturing, food and beverage, power and materials, government, aerospace, space, and healthcare.
8. Motion Industries
Motion Industries, Inc. is a leading distributor of industrial parts. This America-based company was founded in 1946 and has its headquarters located in Birmingham, Alabama. Since 1972, it has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Genuine Parts Company.
Initially, the company was founded as Owen Richards Co., which was purchased by William Spencer III and Caldwell Marks in 1946. They then renamed the company Motion Industries. Later in 1972, the company was merged with Genuine Parts Company.
Motion Industries now forms the Industrial Parts Group of Genuine Parts Company. Just so you know Motion Industries was one of the very first establishments to build a central distribution center. Not just that, but they also set up a database for electronic parts.
Decades later, the company expanded its operations in both MRO and OEM markets. The engineering capabilities and advanced automation solutions of the company enable the company to deliver superior results.
It helps them to satisfy a wide range of commercial, industrial, engineering, and architectural needs. The vast distribution network of the company is what sets them apart in the industry.
Fastenal Company is an American company with its headquarters based in Winona, Minnesota. It was founded in the year 1967 by Bob Kierlin.
The company was then incorporated in 1968. It ranked 479 in the Fortune 500 list 2021 on its 2020 revenues.
Fastenal offers both manufactured and purchased products. Over the years, the company has positioned itself as one of the leading contenders in the market. Today, it is many things to many different customers.
It serves as an expert consultant, a technology provider, a logistics company, and a distributor of construction and industrial products.
The company’s service model centres on approx. 3,200 in-market locations, each providing dedicated sales, and custom inventory to support local customers. These locations are supported by the company’s global distribution network.
Robust sourcing, a closely-aligned supplier network, and teams of support personnel and experts – all work together towards the company’s common goal.
Rubix is a British multinational company that specializes in the distribution of industrial supplies. This includes personal protective equipment, industrial engineering, maintenance, and power transmission.
The company was founded in 2018. In just 3 years, it has emerged as a no.1 entity in this sector in Europe. It currently has 650 branches in 23 different countries. Rubix’s turnover is estimated at 2.2 billion euros.
The prime goal of the company is to transform the delivery of industry solutions and products across Europe. By doing so, it wants to ensure an enhanced customer experience. It delivers its services through various brands across Europe.
Rubix is known to offer specialist expertise in providing, specifying, and installing a scope of industrial parts, with customized services for all customers. The company draws its strength from different businesses that have been brought together over time.
So these are the top competitors of Grainger. Despite having so many rival companies and alternatives, Grainger continues to hold a strong position in the market.