Across all forms of ecommerce—direct-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C)—Unilever grew web sales 47% in 2018 to around 2.49 billion euro ($2.80 billion)

Unilever NV, a global manufacturer of more than 400 consumer brands, including such well-known labels as Dove soap, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Lipton tea, continues to invest heavily in ecommerce, says CEO Alan Jope.

In fact across all forms of ecommerce—direct-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C)—Unilever grew web sales 47% in 2018 to around 2.49 billion eruo ($2.80 billion) from around 1.79 billion euro ($1.90 billion) from about 3.41 billion euro in 2017.

“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,” Jope wrote in a letter contained in Unilever’s recently published annual report.

Overall ecommerce accounted for about 4.9% of total revenue of 50.98 billion euro ($57.12 billion) in 2018 compared with 3.3% of total revenue of 53.71 billion euro ($60.12 billion) in the prior year.

We are building our business through online channels such as Amazon

As Unilever grows online, the company is taking a global approach to ecommerce, particularly through relationships with marketplaces such as Amazon Business in the U.S. and Taobao in China. “Online is now around 5% of Unilever turnover and in China e-commerce accounts for over 20% of turnover,” Jope writes. “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.”

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Ecommerce remains a priority for Unilever’s top markets, he adds. “In 2018 we focused on developing our e-commerce channels, digitizing our value chain to respond to the rapid fragmentation of traditional routes to market,” Jope writes. “We are actively driving B2C and B2B e-commerce in our top 30 markets—our focus is to build a balanced e-commerce business model, growing across e-retailers, bricks and mortar online sales and direct-to-consumer businesses.”

Unilever also continues to add key personnel to grow its brands online. Last month, Unilever named Sunny Jain as president of beauty and personal care, a business unit that includes brands such as Dove, Axe, Lifebuoy and Lux soap.

Prior to joining Unilever, Jain worked as the executive in charge of core consumer segments including grocery, health and personal care, beauty and grooming, luxury beauty, baby, private brands and digital pharmacy PillPack at Amazon.com.

In August Unilever hired Marta Dalton as director of global ecommerce. Dalton joined Unilever from The Coca-Cola Co., where she was director of ecommerce for the soft drink beverage maker.

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