Q&A: Brian Walker, chief product officer at W.W. Grainger Inc., will speak at the June 17 event “Breaking the B2B Barriers to Ecommerce Success” hosted by Digital Commerce 360. We caught up with him to get his insights on B2B trends. Pictured: Grainger's headquarters in Lake Forest, Illinois.

In this Q&A, Brian Walker, chief product officer at multibillion-dollar distributor W.W. Grainger Inc., talks about how Grainger is dealing with pressing trends in B2B ecommerce.

Walker will speak on developments in B2B digital commerce at the June 17 event, “Breaking the Barriers to B2B Ecommerce Success,” hosted by Digital Commerce 360. This is one of series of “Speaker Spotlight” articles featuring the event’s speakers.

We’ve seen how real-time information that makes the purchasing experience faster and easier is no longer just a differentiator, but a customer expectation.

DC360: What is driving B2B companies like Grainger to expand online?

BrianWalker-Grainger

Brian Walker

Walker: Customers want to do business with companies that understand their needs and can bring digital solutions tailored to helping them solve their most complex problems. At Grainger, we have steadily grown and improved the features through our website, mobile applications and EDI and ecommerce channels, including KeepStock, to stay ahead of our customers’ needs.

By continuously innovating and enhancing our digital solutions, we are able provide customers faster and easier ways to search, identify and select the products they need to keep their businesses running. And these tools also provide meaningful insights that help our customers manage their MRO (maintenance, repair and operations products) purchasing more efficiently, help them understand their purchasing, and ultimately save them time and money.

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DC360: What existing trends will the pandemic accelerate?

Walker: Throughout the pandemic, enhanced visibility into information has helped our customers get the critical products they need, when and where they need them, to help keep their businesses, customers and employees safe.

From curbside pick-up information available on our mobile app to easily identifiable availability of pandemic products on Grainger.com, we’ve seen how real-time information that makes the purchasing experience faster and easier is no longer just a differentiator, but a customer expectation. The ability to provide fast and reliable information to customers through the channel of their choice will only continue to accelerate in a post-pandemic world.

DC360: What post-pandemic needs will become opportunities?

Walker: The ability to meet customers where they are at, and do business in the manner most convenient to them, presents a huge opportunity for businesses to innovate and offer a more personalized online experience. Customers today have a multitude of choices when it comes to purchasing online, and they are looking for a company that understands their business, their preferences and can offer them curated information and tailored experiences.

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