2 minutes

At the Applied AI for Distributors conference put on by Distribution Strategy Group, Grainger chief product officer Brian Walker revealed key insights into why AI is a major organizational priority and where its trajectory is heading.

As the biggest public distribution company, W.W Grainger, because of its size and resources, has a significant impact on trends in B2B digital commerce and transformation. And artificial intelligence (AI) is no exception.

This week at the Applied AI for Distributors conference put on by Distribution Strategy Group in Chicago, Grainger chief product officer Brian Walker revealed key insights explaining why AI is a major organizational priority and where its trajectory is heading.

Reason 1: AI accelerates digital transformation.

Know products better than the competition through:

  • Product information management
  • Publishing
  • Search
  • Product cross-referencing
  • Pricing

Key takeaway for all distributors: AI is a competitive advantage for learning your customer behavior inside and outside.

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Reason 2: No one size fits all software.

  • Grainger is building up its technology group to facilitate more enterprise AI.
  • Consolidated 1,000 software applications over 7 years.
  • Formed Grainger Technology Group to support digital transformation.
  • Quadrupled its AI development staff in 3 years.

Key takeaway for all distributors: It takes internal resources and technology talent to master AI.

Reason 3: Why Grainger is making AI a priority.

  • Grainger’s three AI pillars are process, technology, and people.
  • Know products better than the competition.
  • Put customer needs first.
  • Custom software enables efficient growth, data capture, process execution, and insight development.

Key takeaway for all distributors: AI creates more digital sales opportunities and operating efficiency.

How AI is paying off for Grainger:

  • Creates a competitive advantage around customer and product information.
  • Faster search and more complete product discovery
  • Increased technical and organizational ability.
  • Tailored algorithms and data integrity

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