How a B2B company got its tech groove back

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MSC Industrial Supply — one of the largest direct marketers and distributors of metalworking and maintenance, repair and operations supplies — distributes 500,000-plus industrial products to more than 2,000 suppliers for over 300,000 customers. 

Up until recently, the Melville, N.Y.-based MSC was still servicing its manufacturing plant customers with a 4,000-page hardcopy of its “Big Book,” which means the sales were almost exclusively a manual, catalog-driven process. And worse, MSC’s meager website was built on antiquated technology — think Report Program Generator (RPG) and Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts running on an AS/400.

The first thing CIO Charlie Bonomo noticed when he joined MSC was the lack of modern ecommerce technology. He knew immediately that transforming this business and creating a robust online marketplace would be his greatest challenge.

msc industrial supply

"The current site was cumbersome and unstable with frequent downtime," says Bonomo. "Simple changes and upgrades often took months to accomplish. And, it was ugly. The user interface was bad; the search function had two technologies cobbled together and, when searching the inventory for a specific part or product, users received a matched items list that was so large, they still couldn’t locate what they were looking for.”

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