Shreyas Kulkarni

HUL launches ‘UShop’ digital store to directly reach consumers; move to wrest control back from the Amazons and the Flipkarts?

With its digital shop, HUL controls everything from warehousing to distribution to delivery to user data.

Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has opened its digital shop in what appears a bid to wrest control back from online marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon and reach its consumers directly.

Called ‘UShop’, the website’s Instagram handle says it “is a one-stop online destination for your everyday essentials, from the house of Unilever.” There is free delivery on all orders and UShop, as of now, is live in Delhi NCR and Mumbai.

The first post on the page went live on 9 March 2021.

Bloomberg Quint quoted HUL, “UShop will meet the needs of our online shoppers, allowing them to buy some of our brands with the trust of authenticity and promise of proper service" and it will also help to “build more personalised brand experiences”.

It is an interesting move for a company to set up a one-stop digital space for all its brands. HUL, for starters, does not have to depend on online marketplaces like Flipkart, Amazon, or others when it comes to meeting consumer demand online. Also, visitors to UShop can only focus on HUL brands and not from rivals which the company wants.

Adding to this is the power of data. With its digital shop, HUL can access user data for effective targeting without any hindrance.

Also Read: Restaurants look to reclaim food delivery space from Swiggy and Zomato by getting the 'Order Direct'

A similar example is an ongoing tussle between restaurants and delivery platforms like Swiggy and Zomato where the former is ruing the lack of access to customer data and is therefore asking consumers to bypass the delivery giants and order direct(ly) from the restaurants.

However, one cannot miss the fact that, unlike a snack, people don’t go buying a Dove soap bar or Domex disinfectant or a bottle of Vaseline frequently. All these products find space in the monthly grocery shopping list that includes goods from HUL's rivals and other companies, of course.

Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and managing director at HUL, told investors after announcing the results for the quarter ended March 2021, that e-commerce contribution is in the range of between five to six per cent and is more profitable than modern trade.

Recently, HUL had announced a tie-up with JioMart for the distribution of its brands to retailers who can also place orders on the Shikhar app, the company’s online ordering platform exclusively for retailers.

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