If you have ever purchased Hellmann's mayonnaise, Dove soap or Lipton tea, you have purchased products from Unilever NV – a global manufacturer of over 400 consumer brands. The aforementioned products are just 3 of the brands in the house of Unilever, and the manufacturer has been growing its e-commerce business, up by almost 50% in 2018.
Unilever is a rather large corporation. Bundling together more than 400 brands, it is surprising that they can uniformly see growth as they do in e-commerce. Digitalcommerce360.com reports that Unilever's online sales are up to around €2.49 billion, up from €1.79 billion in 2017.
According to Unilever's CEO, Alan Jope, they plan to continue investing heavily in e-commerce. He had this to say: “Our e-commerce sales were up by 47%, ahead of global e-commerce market growth and putting us well on the road to building a scale e-commerce business".
With a total revenue of €50.98 billion in 2018 compared with €53.71 billion in the previous year, e-commerce sales account for about 4.9% of that total.
Unilever's growth is, in part, due to the fact that they have successful partnerships with marketplaces. Jope went on to say: “Online is now around 5% of Unilever turnover, and in China, e-commerce accounts for over 20% of turnover. We are building our business through online channels such as Amazon, Taobao in China, online grocery websites and direct-to-consumer models deployed by Dollar Shave Club, T2 and our prestige brands.”
In 2018, Unilever focused on digitizing their value chain, a response to the rapid fragmentation of traditional routes to market. They are working on driving B2C and B2B e-commerce, focusing on a balanced e-commerce business model. Growth across e-retailers, stationary online sales and direct-to-consumer are all priorities for Alan Jope and the massive bundle of brands.
Unilever is adding new key personnel as well. Just last month, they put Sunny Jain in as president of beauty and personal care. This part of Unilever includes brands such as Dove, Axe, Lifebuoy and Lux soap. Before joining Unilever, Jain was in charge of core consumer sectors like baby, health, grocery, personal care, beauty and grooming, luxury beauty, private brands and the digital pharmacy known as PillPack at Amazon.com.
Also jumping on board the Unilever ship was Marta Dalton, taking over as director of global commerce last August. She joined from The Coca-Cola Co., where she had been the director of e-commerce.
All of this being said, Unilever is definitely not taking e-commerce lightly. They know how much it matters to modern business.