In a recent post, we dove into Amazon Business Prime Shipping and its potential impact on the industrial electrical industry. For those who want the short version, our basic conclusion was that Amazon could become a dominant force due to their ability to consolidate pricing if top tier suppliers were to join the program. We wanted to highlight the current pricing disparity that exists in the online marketplace today. To do this, we took one of the most common Pin and Sleeve wiring device configurations from the biggest supplier, a Hubbell 420P7W. Then, we scraped the first page in Google for pricing that someone looking to purchase online would see. We then ordered them from highest to lowest. Pretty simple. A few caveats before we begin:
- We were just looking for the price of the item. This does not include shipping and handling charges
- This does not incorporate any special pricing. We did not create any accounts or look for bulk discounts. This would be an entirely different exercise
- We cannot be sure that all of these companies are authorized Hubbell pin and sleeve resellers. They could be selling them without the manufacturers permission
With those ground rules set, here are our observations for a person looking to buy a 3 pole, 4 wire, 20 A, 3 phase 480 V Hubbell Pin and Sleeve plug:
Newark.com – $188.34
Newark.com had the highest price of the examples we chose. At $188.34, this may seem extreme but it was not a complete surprise to us. Now, it’s worth noting that they didn’t have any in stock so they either may not have authorization to sell the product or sell a lot and just don’t have any on the shelves. Either way, it’s a steep price to pay for one Hubbell pin and sleeve plug.
Graybar.com – $160.55
Graybar is one of the largest distributors in the United States. That being said, they were the second most expensive option to buy a 420P7W. At $160.55, it was certainly less expensive than the Newark.com pricing but the highest of a top tier online distributor.
Gamut.com – $153.92
As part of Grainger’s well documented strategy to move their business to 80% e-commerce, they launched Gamut.com this summer an an online-only branded channel. It seems that Gamut will share Grainger’s affinity for high prices but they do beat Graybar in this instance. And while it wasn’t part of our analysis, this would qualify for free shipping (anything over $99).
Zoro.com – $129.19
Zoro.com is pricing competitively by selling a good $20-30 below the top tier distributors. Again, they are offering free shipping. Zoro is reputable but would not be considered a “tier one” online brand against a Grainger or Graybar but is still a perfectly acceptable place to buy electrical products such as a Hubbell pin and sleeve (especially at this price).
Stayonline.com – $118.75
Stayonline.com specializes in wiring devices. This may explain why they are able to get better pricing than others. Nonetheless, the combination of pricing and specialization is a great example of what kind of pricing we may see on a fully loaded Amazon platform.
Lockingpowercords.com – $112.00
The second lowest price is courtesy of Lockingpowercords.com. This is almost $80 lower than the price from Newark.com. Their website states that “…We stock IEC60309 wiring devices from Hubbell, Cooper, Mennekes, and PCE” which indicates that they are not authorized resellers because we know for a fact that they do not have a reseller agreement with at least one of these companies.
Amazon.com (Rob’s Industrial) – $110.00
The last price is from Amazon itself. The reseller is Robs Industrial which has an independent website as well. There are very few options currently on Amazon for this product. That indicates to us that while Robs may have a reseller agreement of some kind, it’s likely not for online reselling.
Summing Up the Hubbell Pin and Sleeve 420P7W Exercise
We knew that pricing was variable online for Pin and Sleeve wiring devices. However, even we were surprised at the range of prices available on the first page of Google for a 420P7W. The highest option was 70% more expensive than the cheapest option. This shows the fragmentation that exists and is the opportunity that Amazon Business Prime Shipping is trying to capture.