Company: W.W. Grainger Inc.
Years in current job: 2
Paul Miller took over as VP-e-commerce at industrial supply company W.W. Grainger Inc. in 2010. Part of what Grainger saw in Miller was his background at consumer companies—he had held executive positions at Sears Holdings Corp. and Williams-Sonoma Inc.—both companies with robust e-commerce platforms.
Miller said Grainger, which currently generates about $2.1 billion, or more than 25% of its overall revenue, from e-commerce, wants to emulate the experience users have on the top consumer e-commerce websites. “It really does come more from the consumer side, where best practices derive,” Miller said. “That is why I was brought in—to really help figure out the path of what our customers and prospects are looking to do and build around that.”
Under Miller, Grainger's e-commerce business continues to grow. “Our revenue in the online business is growing at more than 2½ times what [Grainger's] base business is growing at,” he said.
But Miller also looks beyond online to the value Grainger delivers through the knowledge of its sales staff, customer service and branch locations. Through the website, he tries to emphasize the value the complete, multichannel experience Grainger can bring to customers. For instance, the site has prominently displayed “click to call” and “click to chat” buttons to help customers with their orders.
Grainger is now wading into mobile as well. “All the features that work on the website, you have to think about how you bring that into a handheld device in an efficient way,” Miller said. “We haven't just taken the website and put it on the mobile Web; we've crafted it in a way that fits how our customers work.”