MSC Industrial Supply Co. is a veteran of e-commerce, with its first site launched more than a decade and a half ago—a long time in Internet years. And since that launch in 1999 MSC has continued to innovate and improve its online purchasing features for customers, and it has grown its Internet sales to more than half of its total sales.

Those are among the reasons why MSC, a distributor of metalworking tools and services along with other industrial and business product—nearly 1 million of them sold on its e-commerce site, MSDirect.com—took top honors for B2B companies at the second annual Internet Retailer Excellence Awards last week at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

“We strive to create a world-class online experience for our customers as part of our effort to improve their operations and supply chains,” Steve Baruch, MSC’s vice president of strategy and marketing, said in accepting the award along with chief information officer Charlie Bonomo and senior director of e-commerce Mike Roth.

The IR Excellence Awards event granted a total of 13 awards to companies that sell and market online. Ten of the awards went to retailers for various areas of e-commerce and online marketing—with Wayfair winning the overall Internet Retailer of the Year award—and three to companies that sell and market to other businesses via the Internet.

The three B2B awards were granted for the overall B2B E-Commerce Player of the Year, the B2B E-Commerce Marketer of the Year, and the B2B E-Commerce Website Design of the Year.

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Award finalists and winners for the Player of the Year were determined by a team of judges from the editorial staff of B2BecNews and industry analysts. In the case of the B2B E-Commerce Player of the award the panelists included Andy Hoar, principal analyst for B2B e-commerce at Forrester Research Inc.; Gene Alvarez, managing vice president and analyst at Gartner Inc.; and Justin King, a partner of consulting firm B2X Partners and founder of the B2B resource website EcommerceandB2B.com.

For the Marketer award, B2BecNews editorial staff was joined in the judging by Alan Littman, founding partner of consulting firm IQAcceleration; Sevag Parsehian of consulting firm FitForCommerce; and Leslie Hand, an anlyst with research and advisory firm IDC. For the website design award the editorial staff was joined by Linda Taddonio, founding partner of IQAcceleration; Penny Gillespie, an analyst at technology research and advisory firm Gartner Inc.; and Scott Benfield, president of manufacturing and distribution consulting firm Benfield Consulting.

MSC won the award for B2B E-Commerce Player of the Year, which goes to the company that most effectively uses a B2B website to increase online sales to business customers, and that is considered a pioneer in business-to-business e-commerce development. Among other things, the judges cited MSC for its ability to provide a retail-like merchandise displays and purchasing features, while also providing special features needed by business customers, such as custom pricing and a process for getting orders approved by a buyer’s superiors.

MSDirect.com, is No. 97 in the B2B E-Commerce 300, which ranks companies on their annual Internet sales.

The three other finalists for the B2B E-Commerce Player of the Year were CDW Corp., the Global Industrial unit of Systemax Inc. and Premier Farnell plc, which operates e-commerce site Newark.com. CDW is No. 33 in the B2B E-Commerce 300; Systemax is No. 341, Premier Farnell, No. 110.

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The winner of the B2B E-Commerce Marketer of the Year was Cenveo Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of printed materials used by pharmaceutical, food-and-beverage and consumer products companies. The judges looked for the manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor that made the best use of a range of online marketing channels, including social networks and blogs, to expand reach and increase website traffic and sales. Cenveo’s Lightning Labels division won for its coordinated and sales-generating marketing campaigns across multiple channels, including social media, affiliate marketing and Internet search.

The two other finalists for the marketing award were wholesale distributor Dollar Days International Inc. and family-owned manufacturer Edmund Optics Inc.

The winner of the B2B E-Commerce Website Design of the Year was W. W. Grainger Inc. In this category the judges looked for a B2B e-commerce website that most effectively guides customers to the products they want, allows customers to configure products and request price quotes, offers flexible shipping options, connects to workflow systems, and leads to higher online sales and new customer acquisition. The three other finalists for the design award were CivicSolar Inc., Ferguson Enterprises Inc. and Sustainable Supply Co.

For more about the IR Excellence Awards granted to retailers, click here.

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