BY DOUG MCPHERSON
If you want to understand why consumer packaged goods (CPGs) are selling so well online, you only need to look as far as the front door of your house. That’s as far as you have to travel to get just about any CPG you want these days. Order online — wait sometimes less than a couple of hours — and you’ll have your
shampoo, groceries, and toilet paper.
And if that isn’t easy enough for you, don’t fret: the Jetsons’ lifestyle has arrived. Your appliances will help
you — yes, you read that right. Take Samsung for example. It now has a refrigerator that lets you see its contents
in real-time directly from your phone. Plus, Hewlett-Packard has a printer that can order ink and have it shipped
directly to your door — automatically. And not to be outdone, a Whirlpool washing machine can do the same
with laundry detergent.
Of course drones are adding to the picture of ease as well — for both consumers and businesses. Some estimate drones could reduce delivery costs by up to 90 percent.
If all this is too high-tech for you, go with InstaCart and Shipt, companies that offer last-mile delivery the
old-fashioned way — with humans.
Soap Cleans Up Online
In a word, soap and all other CPGs sell well online due to convenience.
One company that’s enjoying the trend is Charlie’s Soap, which makes and sells eight
detergent/soap products from its home base in Stoneville, N.C.
Taylor Sutherland, president of Charlie’s Soap, says his company’s success has much
to do with brand loyalty and price. “And once they’re established in the consumer’s
mind, it comes down to convenience,” Sutherland says.
The company’s foundation was laid long before consumers were shopping on the
internet. And the story of how it developed loyalty among consumers is one for the
business history books.
In 1976, when factories’ machines got too dirty to work, Charlie Sutherland
Sr. developed a cleaner that was easy on the hands of the little old ladies
charged with the job of cleaning those machines. The story goes that