W.W. Grainger Inc., a pioneer of business-to-business e-commerce, routinely reports online sales as an increasing percentage of total sales. For 2016, it said e-commerce accounted for about 47%, or about $4.7 billion, of total worldwide net sales of $10.14 billion.
But Grainger also operates a growing internet-connected inventory management service for its clients in the United States, and with that included, total e-commerce sales in the U.S. would represent more than half of total U.S. revenue, the company says in the 10K financial statement filed this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The KeepStock service, which places vending machines stocked with items like wrenches and industrial adhesives on-site at customer locations, is designed to automatically record retrievals of products by a client’s employees and trigger replenishment orders.
The KeepStock program provides inventory management services to nearly 23,000 customers, up from 21,000 a year ago. Grainger installed 11,000 new vending units last year, bringing the total number to approximately 59,500, up from about 54,000 at the end of 2015, the company says.
If Grainger included the electronic inventory management service in its e-commerce figures, “total e-commerce and KeepStock revenue for the U.S. business would represent 57% of total sales,” Grainger says.
Grainger reported total U.S. net sales in 2016 of $7.87 billion, including $3.66 billion in e-commerce sales not including the KeepStock program. With KeepStock, the total U.S. e-commerce figure would be about $4.49 billion.
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