There’s a recognizable shift in the approach big publicly owned distributors of maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) products are taking to B2B ecommerce.
Namely, the nature of ecommerce is changing from just serving up products and services online: It’s more important to act as a strategic partner to help customers maintain and grow their business.
A key example is MSC Industrial Supply Co. MSC, which does about 60% of its more than $3 billion in annual sales digitally—including through its ecommerce site, MSCDirect.com—recently rolled out MSC MillMax, a digital program designed to improve milling productivity and reduce costs for durable goods manufacturing companies.
Specifically, MillMax helps manufacturers improve milling productivity and cut the time needed to complete complicated setups by using a digital dashboard to determine precise measurements for Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine tools.
Milling parts on a mill or lathe requires attention to detail by machinists in what can be a time-consuming and manual process. Machinists must set up complicated, precision computerized controls that enable machine tools to cut and shape metal.
Going digital—and faster
MillMax speeds up and digitizes the process by helping machinists identify the optimal and stable speeds of any milling assembly or setup by simply “tapping” a CNC machine tool with a small, instrumented hammer and detecting the vibration response, MSC says.
“By using our deep history of metalworking application expertise, we are able to find the best product for each operation,” says MSC director of metalworking innovation Jamie Goettler.
MSC is deploying MillMax at no cost to metalworking customers and thus far has “hundreds of customers interested in the technology,” Goettler says. “We administer this service in return for incremental sales growth,” he says.
Metalworking is big business for MSC. “For milling and tool holders alone, the market is between $2 billion and $3 billion,” Goettler says.
To grow in that market, MSC says it will offer clients specialty services such as MillMax. “Being able to now employ MSC MillMax to justify and optimize our recommendation, using digital tools and machine learning influence, generates maximum savings and productivity,” Goettler says.
MillMax also generates online sales for MSC, which the distributor didn’t break out. “All products we recommend are available through MSCDirect.com, so customers can order these products quickly and easily,” Goettler says.
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