Q&A: DGI Supply COO Talks New E-Commerce Website

ID editor Mike Hockett sat down with DGI Supply COO Bill Henricks during the recent ISA Convention for an exclusive interview to discuss the company's revamped e-commerce offering, as well as its most recent acquisition.

During "Distributor Booth Day" at the recent Industrial Supply Association Convention in Cleveland, OH April 25-27, I had a chance to sit down with DGI Supply Chief Operating Officer Bill Henricks to talk about the company's new e-commerce site, which it formally announced on April 24.

DGI, the distribution arm of DoAll Company, was No. 31 on ID's 2014 Big 50 List.

Webinar: Embracing the E-commerce Dynamic

Henricks was happy to discuss the new and improved features of the new website – www.dgisupply.com for U.S. customers, and www.dgisupply.ca for Canadian customers.

Mike Hockett (MH): What does the new e-commerce site offer that the previous one did not?

Bill Henricks (BH): There's a lot of new functionality – a suggestive search, deeper taxonomy, and more products. We’re up to close to 85,000 items now. We’re adding them at a furious pace.

We have some great tools for budgetary use. We’ve got multiple layers of budget approval. It lets customers replace their internal requisitioning system. They can use our website as their budget approval system, in some cases very complex organizations that have a cost center budget and approval process for purchases above a certain threshold.

We also have some nifty continuous replenishment programs. We have the ability to create custom catalogues online now – barcoded catalogues, barcoded order point cards. You can print them straight from the website with the barcodes with some nice, rich descriptions.

We give away, for qualified customers, a Zap Scanner that customers can use to replenish. We also have a differentiated tool called SourceIT, which for customers who don’t know precisely what they’re looking for, they can upload a picture or description of what they’re looking for and one of our sourcing specialists will source the product, add it to their card, price it – that kind of work flow. It’s another thing that differentiates us from the competition.

Between the additional content, the calculators, the replenish stuff, the budgetary approval, we’re literally making changes to it every week. There’s no real finish line to it.

Another thing I want to point out is the Manufacturer’s Partner Pages. We’re trying to showcase our premier brands first. In that, we want to be thought of as the go-to for new and innovative products and technologies. There really isn’t that in our space. Society of Manufacturers Engineers doesn’t have that forum, Practical Machinist kind of has that forum. We want to be thought of as that place as the first charter to manufacturing, and particularly metalworking customers, where they can go to find the latest and greatest in those technologies.

MH: You mentioned DGI's Zap Scanner. Can you explain that in more detail and how it differs from Amazon's new Dash Button?

BH: To overcome the objection that “I don’t have Internet access,” or “My Wi-Fi is not very good on the plant floor,” we equip those same people with the equivalent of an easy button, so to speak. It literally has one button. You look through a custom catalogue that you’ve made up on your own online, you can scan the items that you want, and it gets uploaded to the web whenever you’re back in range. It’s like the easy button for those who don’t have Internet access.

MH: In late March, the company announced the acquisition of East Metro Supply (Monroe, NC). What were the motivations behind acquiring a company in the Charlotte market?

BH: It was strategic from a couple different standpoints. We were looking first at geography. It’s a market we want to play in. We were in there, but didn’t have a lot of good infrastructure. This gives us more infrastructure from a customer service standpoint. We’re looking to add more in terms of distribution stocking infrastructure. They’ve got a great team – good distributor sales people, good customer service. It helps build out the geography of the brand first, and overriding all of it is a good team that are now part of the DGI family. We’re excited to have them.

MH: Anything you can say about where the company is looking next?

BH: Acquisitions are part of the strategy. We’re looking across the U.S. and Canada. We’re looking at target geographies, target industrial brand names, and target product verticals. There will likely be more to come.

Since 2012, DGI Supply has acquired the following distribution companies: Groves Industrial Supply; Anich Industries Inc.; Cunningham Supply; K & H Sales, Inc.; Merwin-Stoltz Co.; Midwest Industrial Tools; Southwest Industrial Supply Co.; Tool & Abrasive Supply Inc.; and East Metro Supply.