The chief digital officer at Grainger, Paige Robbins, nearly doubled her total compensation last year; at MSC Industrial Supply, top ecommerce and strategy officer Steven Baruch has joined the ranks of top executives.

The importance of executives charged with overseeing digital strategies appears to be steadily increasing at major ecommerce players and industrial products distributors W.W. Grainger Inc. and MSC Industrial Supply Co.

Companies with a strong digital commerce track are turning to executives with comprehensive experience in digital sales and marketing operations.

At Grainger, total compensation in 2018 for Paige Robbins, senior vice president and chief digital officer, nearly doubled to $2,253,319, up 91.3% from $1,178,103 in 2017, the company reported in a proxy statement including executive pay recently filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Robbins’s 2018 compensation included a 5.0% increase in base salary to $508,500, a 316.0% increase in stock awards to $846,722, a 106.9% increase in stock option awards to $262,778, a 92.3% increase in non-equity incentive plan compensation to $516,375, and a 25.3% increase in “all other” compensation, including profit sharing, to $118,944.

The positions and compensation given to B2B ecommerce experts is part of a trend in ecommerce executive ranks, where companies with a strong digital commerce track are turning to well-rounded executives with comprehensive experience in digital sales and marketing operations, says ecommerce recruitment expert Harry Joiner.

Compensation in 2018 for Grainger’s chairman and CEO, D.G. Macpherson, increased 50.1% year over year to $10,455,844, including a 0.07% increase in base salary to $1,030,000, with much larger increases in stock awards, stock options and non-equity incentive plan compensation. A proponent of ecommerce, Macpherson has said Grainger, which focuses on maintenance repair and operations (MRO) products, may do about 80% of total sales via ecommerce within several years.


For the year ended Dec. 31, 2018, Grainger reported a 14.5% year-over-year increase in web sales to $6.74 billion, or 60% of total sales of $11.22 billion.

At MSC Industrial Supply, a distributor of industrial products with a focus on metalworking technology and services, ecommerce also accounts for more than half of total sales. MSC’s head ecommerce executive, Steven Baruch, is among the senior executive team as executive vice president and chief strategy and marketing officer, a position to which he was appointed in August 2017. In MSC’s proxy statement for the fiscal year ended Sept. 1, 2018, he is listed as having total compensation of $987,855, including $348,668 in base salary, $219,935 in stock awards, $198,221 in stock option awards, $161,009 in non-equity incentive plan compensation, and $11,628 in all other compensation.

Baruch, who joined MSC in 2008, has served in various positions leading ecommerce and digital marketing efforts. Prior to MSC, he served in similar positions at Adecco and at Arrow Electronics.

Among other senior executives at MSC, total compensation in the last fiscal year for Erik Gershwind, president and CEO, increased 12.6% to $4,461,519, including a 3% increase in base salary to $740,723. For Douglas Jones, executive vice president and chief supply chain officer, total compensation increased 0.3% to $1,222,172, including a 6.7% increase in base salary to $414,647.

For the fiscal year ended Sept. 1, 2018, MSC reported total net sales of $3.204 billion, up 10.9% from the prior year. Ecommerce sales came in at close to $2 billion, or about 60% of total sales.


For the first fiscal quarter ended Dec. 1, 2018, MSC’s ecommerce sales increased 8.7% year over year to about $500 million, or 60.1% of total sales of $831.60 million.

MSC’s formal corporate name is MSC Industrial Direct Inc., but it generally goes by MSC Industrial Supply, the name of its primary operating unit.

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