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W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW - Analyst Report) recently launched several new e-commerce solutions including a new iPad app and integrated multi-channel web platform with enhanced search, workflow and purchase capabilities. This will help customers to easily find the products they need and order accordingly.

Grainger's new iPad application is equipped with improved search filters that will enable customers browse through various products in seconds.  Once a customer selects a product, the key information regarding product availability, technical specifications and product accessories are displayed. It will show the real-time product availability - the nearest branch that has the product in stock or the expected date of arrival of the product.   

The easy single-page checkout will display the customer's account information, including the payment method, shipping address and default branch. Through the order history, customers will be able to track their order history. Furthermore, access to personal and shared lists will help the customers find and re-order regularly purchased items.

Grainger's new web platform is designed to offer a consistent purchase experience for customers across multiple purchase channels, including branches, mobile, website and KeepStock (the company's inventory management solution). Customers can begin a purchase transaction in one medium and complete it in another, order products in a branch and view order history online, and track KeepStock orders on the website or through a mobile device.

The iPad application is part of Grainger’s eCommerce initiative, which provides its customers with a consistent multi-channel experience from desktop through mobile device. E-commerce is one of Grainger’s most efficient channels as it is reportedly growing twice as fast as other channels and is deemed to be Grainger’s most profitable channel. Grainger continues to invest in e-commerce and expects to increase the number of customers utilizing this channel and its percentage of overall sales.

Grainger’s eCommerce sales in 2012 increased 23% annually to $2.7 billion, representing 30% of  total sales, which and the company plans to increase up to 50% by 2015. This channel also carries higher margins as it requires lower selling, general and administrative costs.

Lake Forest, IL-based Grainger is a leading North American distributor of material handling equipment, safety and security supplies, lighting and electrical products, power and hand tools, pumps and plumbing supplies, cleaning and maintenance supplies, forestry and agriculture equipment, building and home inspection supplies, vehicle and fleet components, and various aftermarket components.

Grainger currently carries a short-term Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Favorable options in the industry include  Xylem Inc. (XYL - Analyst Report), with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), and ScanSource, Inc. (SCSC - Snapshot Report) and Hudson Technologies Inc. (HDSN - Snapshot Report) carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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