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How a late-night craving for ice-cream unlocked an epiphany for Unilever’s Amy BrixAmy Brix, Director of Ecommerce in Germany for Unilever has always had an entrepreneurial streak which made her a perfect candidate to grasp the possibilities of CPG ecommerce and digital transformation.
Brix got her feet wet working for one of Europe’s biggest travel companies, where reaching customers through both a website and a mobile app became key drivers of success. From there, Brix continued her career journey with a stop at Google before landing at Unilever, one of the world’s biggest CPG players.
The path to ecommerce for CPG’s has not always been obvious, but Brix’s focus has been to lead new business models, which included product innovation, and also channel innovation. She found inspiration for a new channel of online food delivery for Unilever right in her own home. Brix theorized her own late-night Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream habit was shared by others, and she convinced the company to test online delivery of ice-cream. “After testing this and pitching this internally, the consumer proposition was good – people were ordering (ice-cream) 11 at night.” (7:00) Brix ended up scaling the launch by partnering with delivery partners like UberEats to more than 100 cities.
She views digital as a way to engage with customers, either to build loyalty for a product already in-market or to gather insights before a product is even launched. Brix says engaged customers are willing to answer questions about their preferences and what they would like to see in a new product – by starting small, you can return big results. “We’ve launched, for example, a new flavor for Valentine's Day, or you know, something extra, because we knew people were looking for it. That’s only possible when you have this direct connection with your consumers.” (10:00)
In terms of a direct connection, Brix says that doesn’t necessarily translate to “direct-to-consumer”. While some of Unilever’s brands are a good fit for D2C, many are not. You wouldn’t necessarily order a bunch of products from separate online sites when you can easily get them all through a supermarket. It just doesn’t make sense for the consumer. You also can’t make a business case to sell direct to consumer unless the order value exceeds the costs involved in D2C, including shipping. However, a digital channel can create a place for shopper to engage, and by doing so, provide data Unilever can use both for product innovation, as well as for partners trying to understand what shoppers want. (14:32)
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