Those risks led GWW stock to essentially stall out starting in 2013. And they came home to roost last year. Disappointing earnings — particularly, falling margins — seemed to signal that pressure from Amazon was a real problem. By September, GWW traded at its lowest levels in almost six years. Grainger seemed destined to be another dominant business undone by a nimbler online competitor.
The company launched amazon.com Auctions, a web auctions service, in March 1999. However, it failed to chip away at the large market share of the industry pioneer, eBay. Later, the company launched a fixed-price marketplace business, zShops, in September 1999, and the now defunct partnership with Sotheby's, called Sothebys.amazon.com, in November. Auctions and zShops evolved into Amazon Marketplace, a service launched in November 2000 that let customers sell used books, CDs, DVDs, and other products alongside new items. As of October 2014, Amazon Marketplace is the largest of its kind, followed by similar marketplaces from Sears, Rakuten and Newegg.