The metalworking and industrial supplies distributor said it’s working hard to improve its ecommerce channels, which accounted for 62% of total sales of $595.8 million for its fiscal second quarter. “Ecommerce enhancements … will be a never-ending journey,” president and CEO Erik Gershwind said.

Ecommerce has long been a crucial driver of MSC Industrial Supply Co.’s growth strategy. But the multibillion-dollar distributor plans to continue enhancing its digital channel, president and CEO Erik Gershwind said this week.

We are enhancing our ecommerce functionality and expect to see incremental benefits in the coming quarters.
Erik Gershwind, president and CEO
MSC Industrial Supply Co.

MSC Industrial ecommerce sales

Total ecommerce sales increased 0.05% year over year to $595.8 million for the fiscal second quarter ended March 4. MSC Industrial ecommerce sales amount to 62% of total sales. In comparison, total sales increased 0.04% to $961.6 million.

“We think we can be doing better,” Gershwind said on a second-quarter earnings call. He added that improvements were already well under way with digital technology under the leadership of MSC’s first chief digital officer.


John Hill, chief digital and information officer, MSC Industrial Supply Co.

“It’s been nearly a year since John Hill joined us as MSC’s first chief digital and information officer, and progress with our technology function is encouraging,” Gershwind said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the earnings call. “We are enhancing our ecommerce functionality and expect to see incremental benefits in the coming quarters.”


Increasingly digital

Kristen Actis-Grande, chief financial officer, also noted that one of MSC’s priorities “is digital, which includes all aspects of MSC’s digital engagement with customers, suppliers and associates.”

When asked on the earnings call how MSC was growing sales among smaller companies and government agencies as well as larger companies, Gerswhind again cited ecommerce as critical to its strategy.

“Ecommerce has application across the board, all customer sizes,” Gershwind said. “But certainly for smaller customers, the enhancements we’re putting in place, we’re already doing pretty well in ecommerce.”

He added, “We are improving our product information and customer data, making for a better customer service experience and a more efficient business.”


Ecommerce sales were also helped by MSC’s growth of internet-connected vending machines.

“Vending machine net sales grew mid-teens year over year and reached $89.4 million, representing 15% of total net sales,” MSC said.

MSC also continues to drive growth through acquisition. In January, it completed the acquisition of two Ohio-based distributors:

  • Buckeye Industrial Supply Co., a metalworking products distributor that caters to manufacturers
  • True-Edge Grinding, which brings MSC “new capabilities in customer tool manufacturing and grinding,” Gershwind said.

Speaking at EnvisionB2B 2023

John Hill, MSC’s chief digital and information officer, will give a keynote address at Digital Commerce 360’s EnvisionB2B 2023 Conference & Exhibition in June in Chicago.


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