Fastenal: Losing Its Fast Growth to Amazon Business?
Fastenal was one of the largest U.S. industrial supply companies, with the highest operating margin among its competitors. It was known and awarded for its innovative industrial vending solutions. With the launch of Amazon Business in the industrial distribution space in 2012, Fastenal's performance began to decline. In 2017, Amazon Business obtained patents for a drone-based delivery system. This, combined with Amazon's power of low cost, raised critical challenges for leading players like Fastenal. How should Fastenal respond to this competition: should it focus on low price or pursue a differentiation strategy? Arpita Agnihotri is affiliated with Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg. Saurabh Bhattacharya is affiliated with Newcastle University.