Unilever Grows eCommerce Sales 2X Global Market Rate

Packaged goods company Unilever now has online sales outpacing the world’s eCommerce market, The Drum reported yesterday (Oct. 15), noting that this significant growth is fueled by the U.K., Ireland and France.

The company confirmed its eCommerce sales exhibited 40 percent growth, which is double the 20 percent reported for the growth of sales in the global eCommerce space.

A large part of Unilever’s eCommerce surge came from the U.K. and Ireland, while its third biggest market is France, the company said. In its third quarter, Unilever’s revenue increased sharply, outpacing analysts’ expectations and marking its strongest quarterly jump in nearly three years.

But even with the strong results, Unilever CEO Paul Polman warned in a written statement: “We continue to see soft global markets with no immediate sign of getting help from an improving global economy.”

Susquehanna analyst Pablo Zuanic told The Wall Street Journal that many consumer goods companies continue to face challenges outside of North America. “We would not take the improved numbers as a sign of green shoots,” he explained.

It’s clear that the growing strength of the eCommerce market globally is causing manufacturers and retailers to drastically overhaul the way they attempt to reach and sell to consumers.

“Over the last 20 years, retailers, the big retailers — Tesco, Carrefour, Walmart — had the power. Today, that’s changing,” WPP Chief Executive Sir Martin Sorrell said at the Dmexco conference earlier this year, The Drum reported.

“The direct relationship that you can establish online with the consumer is critically important, and manufacturers have the ability now to correspond and relate to the consumer. The threat is from Amazon, Alibaba and eBay in terms of them becoming the new Tesco, Carrefour and Walmart. They could establish that direct relationship and destabilize the manufacturers. Manufacturing plus eCommerce plus retailing is important,” Sorrell explained.

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