Much has been made about the effects of mobile technology on hotel reservations and hotel marketing, but there’s another important area of the hotel lodging business where smartphones and tablets are beginning to have an impact—procurement.
At its annual show held in Orlando, Fla., earlier this year, Grainger, a broad line distributor of more than 900,000 products for all industries, officially launched its mobile solution for procurement. “People are using mobile technology for a variety of things,” says Rick Betz, brand vice president at Grainger. “One thing is to just source product—take a look at it or do research—but they are also using it to place orders and confirm orders.”
Recognizing the shift in the way businesses buy maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) supplies, Grainger developed its new mobile website to give people more streamlined access to Grainger.com no matter the location—job site, truck, plant floor, garage, or maintenance shop.
“We have just about everything—as you may have seen on our commercial that includes the kitchen sink—so we wanted to be able to provide information to our customers in real-time,” Betz says. “If you have an engineer working in a guestroom and he or she is looking for information on a particular product, they don’t necessarily want to go all the way back down to an office to look it up. Many times they’ll want to be right where the work is and look it up. It saves a lot of time.”
Betz says facility maintenance in hotels is often time sensitive, particularly when guests are present in a room. “They want that fixed so it’s important you give the engineers information as quickly and completely as possible,” he says.
The mobile site is accessible from any smartphone and was featured prominently during the Grainger Show, which the company says was its largest show to date. The show included more than 475 supplier booths as well as two full days of educational seminars, discussions groups and training sessions, which also addressed procurement in the areas of inventory management, sustainability, and safety. For the first time, Grainger hosted technical education students and graduates from The Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship Program to raise awareness of the importance and opportunities associated with jobs in the industrial trades.
“This was also the first year we had a specific hospitality focus portion of the trade show,” says Maria Kogen, director of Grainger’s strategy for hospitality. “Hospitality is a bigger focus us. We’ve added about 10,000 products over the last year and a half and a lot of them have value to hospitality.”