MSC's B2B Digital Content Marketing & Mobile Strategy

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Today, in order to stay relevant and achieve growth, brands need to embrace a digital strategy. This is as true in the B2B realm as much as it is in B2C. Today's B2B buyers are spending more time conducting independent research online than ever before.

A new report from Gartner - entitled The New B2B Buying Journey - notes that the ready availability of quality information through digital channels has made it far easier for buyers to gather information independently, meaning sellers have less access and fewer opportunities to influence customer decisions. In fact, the research finds that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers - and when buyers are in the process of comparing multiple suppliers, the amount of time with any one sales rep may be as little as 5% or 6%.

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Instead, buyers are spending the majority of their research time seeking information online. This means B2B content marketing strategies are becoming increasingly important - not just for generating online sales, but also for creating and cementing a bond with customers.

According to the latest B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report from the Content Marketing Institute, nearly all (90%) of top-performing B2B content marketers put their audience's informational needs ahead of their company's sales/promotional message.

And this is precisely the strategy North American distributor of maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) products MSC Industrial Supply has been embracing through its MRO business information website MSC Better MRO.

MSC Better MRO

Quietly launched two years ago, MSC Better MRO is designed to help the distributor take a more holistic and long-term approach to building relationships with its customers while selling industrial products online. "A lot of industrial and MRO product buyers come to us with questions they want answers to, and those questions go far beyond just transactions," says Executive Vice President of Strategy and Marketing at MSC, Steve Baruch.

MSC Better MRO seeks to provide answers to those questions via a vast library of "how-to" videos and best-practice content on subjects ranging from job connection and lean manufacturing to real-life stories, training, and workplace safety. "The site is about making MRO professionals more productive," says Kathryn Nerko, MSC's Manager of eCommunity Marketing. "We generate a lot of content about practical applications."

The information site also features a series of community forums that draw on the expertise of the 5,000+ suppliers that do business with MSC, as well as things like webinars discussing timely topics, such as how companies can bridge a skills gap when they can't find and hire enough machinists. The purpose is to add value to MSC Industrial Supply's offering and expand the company's thought leadership position in industrial and MRO products and implementation - and it's working. According to Nerko, the content website is beginning to resonate with MRO purchasing professionals and is now generating website traffic of more than 100,000 visitors each month.

The MSC ControlPoint Mobile App

MSC Industrial Supply is also making moves to better connect with customers and increase sales via mobile. Recently, the company launched its first mobile app - MSC ControlPoint - designed for both Apple and Android devices. The app lets customers use the camera on their smartphone to scan MSC or competitor product labels and barcodes and add them directly to a shopping cart. Users can then review and edit their orders from within the app before completing them.

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Other features of the application enable customers to order products for drop-shipment directly from a manufacturer. They can then pay for the transaction using the app's checkout, and use cost allocations, purchase orders, and order-approvals to create a shopping cart and send orders to for final checkout.

Final Thoughts

As B2B buyers spend more time doing their initial research online, it's imperative that organizations do everything in their power to capture their attention at this crucial stage. With Better MRO, MSC Industrial Supply is adding huge value to its brand, helping it to better connect with its customers at all stages of the buying cycle, while the new ControlPoint app makes the purchasing process more streamlined and convenient than ever before.

"Everything we do is about making it easier to do business with us," says Michael Roth, Senior Director of Ecommerce at MSC. "The app gives MRO professionals more versatility, especially with their tablet while on the shop floor or job site."

You can hear Steve Baruch, EVP of Strategy and Marketing at MSC Industrial Supply, speak at B2B Online 2020, taking place in April at the Chicago Marriott Downtown.

Download the Agenda today for more information and insights.

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