Continuing its push to delve more deeply into its product lines, Lake Forest, IL-based maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) marketer W.W. Grainger introduced a 318-page catalog devoted to plumbing products and supplies in March.
The new catalog’s product line includes water heaters and coolers, pipes, valves, fittings, fixtures, faucets, and water filtration systems. “We bolstered our offering in several key categories this year, including plumbing, material handling, fasteners and security products,” says Steve Dahl, product manager for plumbing. The company expects to expand its offering by 25,000 SKUs, which will cost Grainger $3 million-$5 million.
“Prior to this year, we had 4,000 items [dedicated for plumbing supplies], and we’ve added 12,000 items,” Dahl says. Sales of plumbing supplies account for 9% of total sales at the $5.9 billion Grainger. Grainger expects the product expansion (across all channels) to add 1%-2% in sales. Business-to-business conglomerate Grainger mails catalog titles ranging from industrial suppliers marketer Lab Safety Supply, agricultural maintenance provider Ben Meadows, and AW Direct, a direct marketer of equipment for towing companies and service stations.
“Every [MRO] customer has some sort of plumbing need,” says Dahl, adding that contractors, facilities managers, and procurement executives need access to a broad array of facilities maintenance supplies across multiple product categories. With the new plumbing title, “We’re trying to make Grainger a one-stop source for our customer,” he says.
Grainger’s new plumbing supplies is not mailed, however. It is distributed by the company’s field sales representatives, who leave it with customers as a reference. Grainger has 1.7 million active customers.