Why did Grainger create Gamut.com?

Why did Grainger create Gamut.com?

Why did Grainger create Gamut.com?

Before we get into this discussion, know that this part one of probably many thoughts on Grainger and their strategy. We have asked around and gathered a decent amount of information on the “why” but this is not the final conclusion.

Have you see the new Grainger site Gamut.com? The site is radically different than the parent site Grainger.com. It is almost hard to believe that it is a Grainger site.  I have had many distributors recently ask me why Grainger created this new site.  So, in this article let’s dive into why we believe Grainger created Gamut.com and a few takeaways for other distributors.

Gamut soft launched their site in the beginning of May, but it has already garnered lots of attention from the distribution world.  With over 400,000 items sold (more than 50% less than Grainger) the site is a radical departure from even Graingers new look that rolled out this past week.

What Makes Gamut.com Different?

On top of a clearly different and more “McMaster-like” experience here are a few things I have learned from asking around:

  • Focused on Technical Products – you don’t see office products and trash bags on the Gamut site.  I believe this is intentional to sell to a buyer who is looking for more technical and complex products.  Where precision about product attributes (shaft rotation, ID, OD) matter.  And there are lots of attributes.  Tons of attributes.
  • Curated product experience – instead of a focus on brands and manufacturers, Gamut curates the best products to fit what the customer is looking for.  In fact, only after you have clicked on the final product do you even see a product name and brand.
  • Focus on Discovery Experience – The Amazon discovery experience for B2B is seriously lacking.  It is difficult to find what you are looking for on the B2B site when you don’t know exactly what you need.  The clean search, navigation and taxonomy enables a customer to find technical and complex products quickly and be assured they found exactly the right product.
  • Product Data, Product Data, Product Data – the single biggest difference is the amazing amount of product data on the site.  This data allows for a discovery and curated experience mentioned above.

In The End, It’s All About Amazon

It is evident that large distributors (like Grainger, Staples, and Ferguson) feel the biggest pressure from Amazon.  The real reason that Gamut exists is because of Amazon.

How does Gamut compete against Amazon?

While many organizations talk about having an Amazon-like experience, in B2B what we NEED is an experience that helps our customers do their job.  Grainger knows that the Amazon experience doesn’t work in all cases – especially in technical products with complex attributes.  Try searching Amazon business using attributes or facets – it is a frustrating experience.  This is where Gamut is capitalizing.

Future Roadmap for Grainger?

There is definitely speculation that the Gamut site is an “R&D” facility for Grainger – basically the future Roadmap for what Grainger.com wants to become in the future.  I think the bigger issue is that Gamut is technically a separate company.  Could it be that by being separated from the politics and bureaucracy of a large organization, Gamut can run faster and more nimble then its’ parent? Probably.

Key Takeaways for Distributors

That last point is a key takeaway for you to learn from.  Your organization may need to literally separate the DigitalBranch.  Separate it from the politics, cluttered and fat sales channels, and bureaucracy of your own organization.  Something to think about for sure.

Is your DigitalBranch an extension of your physical branches?

In addition, you can actually do better than Amazon too.  By understanding your products, content, and attributes, you can give your customers an experience that is yes, actually better than Amazon – or Grainger for that matter.  You know your customers and have product expertise that very few have. Is your DigitalBranch an extension of your physical branches?


No marketing, no gimmicks.  Get down to business and get out.


Complex data, attributes, replacement parts.  Product, brand, and packaging only shown when you click on product.