Companies in this industry distribute supplies for machinery and equipment used in the manufacturing, oil and gas, and warehousing industries. Major companies include Applied Industrial Technologies, Fastenal, Industrial Distribution Group, MRC Global, MSC Industrial Direct, and WW Grainger.
The entry of online retailers, primarily Amazon Business, into the industrial supply wholesale space has disrupted the business models of traditional players and intensified competition. Online B2B retailers often offer price comparison tools that allow customers to select from several different suppliers, forcing some established industrial supply wholesalers to reduce their prices which has negatively affected profitability.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major products include abrasives, strapping, tapes, and inks (30% of sales); industrial containers and supplies (19%); mechanical power transmission supplies (15%); industrial valves and fittings (14%); and bushings and bearings (11%). Other products include tools, motors, fasteners, and cleaning supplies. Large distributors may carry more than 1 million different items classified by stock-keeping units, or SKUs. Products are grouped into product lines. Wholesalers are often referred to as either "general line," meaning they carry a mix of items from multiple product lines, or as "specialty line," meaning they carry a large variety of items from a single product line.