Capitalizing on growth in ecommerce sales, which rose 30% in 2018 over 2017, is a key priority for the consumer products manufacturer, CEO Ian Cook says.

Colgate-Palmolive Co., maker of Colgate toothpaste and a wide range of personal health and cleaning products such as SoftSoap, Irish Springs and AJAX, has a lot to smile about when it comes to ecommerce.

Last year all forms of ecommerce, including business-to-business, business-to-consumer and business-to-business-to-consumer, or  B2B2C, totaled about 5% of total 2018 global sales of $15.54 billion and grew year over year by 30%, according to the company’s latest annual report and other recently released year-end documents.

While Colgate-Palmolive didn’t break out ecommerce numbers, B2BecNews estimates that global ecommerce sales totaled $777.2 million compared with $598 million in 2017.

“Capitalizing on growth in ecommerce, which was up 30% in 2018 and now represents 5% of global sales, is another key priority,” CEO Ian Cook wrote in his shareholder and investor letter included in the annual report. “We have a clearly defined ecommerce strategy linking digital marketing, customer service and logistics, analytics and customer development.”

A big push online for Colgate-Palmolive, which posted total sales of $15.54 billion last year, is focusing on B2B2C programs such as Hill’s to Home.

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With Hill’s to Home, consumers with overweight pets can have a veterinarian write a prescription for a special type of pet food, sign the patient up for an online account and then arrange for home delivery of the prescription pet food based on their schedule.

The veterinarian works with the pet owner to set up the ecommerce account, including billing the patient’s credit card and arranging home delivery.

Colgate-Palmolive has yet to say how many veterinarians and consumers have signed up for Hill’s to Home, but the company sees the ecommerce program as an important way to tie both groups to its Hill’s pet nutrition business, which in 2018 posted essentially flat net sales of about $2.39 billion.

“The pet parent initially signs up for their program through their vet, who enters the appropriate prescription diet food recommendation,” Colgate-Palmolive president Noel Wallace told analyst on the company’s recent year-end earnings call, according to a transcript from SeekingAlpha. “This new system allows us to maintain the key relationship between Hill’s, our vet partners and pet parents.”

Colgate-Palmolive, which runs on ecommerce applications from SAP SE’s SAP C/4 Hana software suite, will continue to invest in ecommerce, especially in ways that build up its core brands and improves ties to retailers and other B2B sellers, Wallace told analysts. “We’re looking on our ecommerce and direct consumer partners to further build our capabilities in digital, ecommerce and direct-to-consumer, which will allow us to expand our offerings and strengthen our consumer relationships,” Wallace said.

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