It wasn’t so long ago that huge household brands were the only true global players in retail, but today, the landscape looks different. Technology has enabled independent brands to grow and make a name for themselves.
The internet plus the necessary tools to enable sales, advertising, marketing and delivery of a product are essentially a few phone calls or button clicks away, and anyone with the right concept, team and resources can access them. Options to enable commerce at scale were simply not available to the masses before the '90s, but today they are so accessible and normal that we rarely pause to think about the incredible speed of development in this area.
Put into context, Gillette dates back to The Gillette Company, founded in 1901 (it was merged into Procter & Gamble in 2005), but it isn’t the only name associated with razors anymore. You’ve probably heard of Dollar Shave Club. A short time ago, it would have been difficult-to-impossible for an average person to build the social clout, let alone a global supply chain, to compete with the resources Gillette had at its disposal.
However, in today’s world, starting with their own money and a small incubator investment, the brand’s two founders used technology (a website followed by a YouTube video) to launch Dollar Shave Club and generate their first 12,000 orders in the U.S. A year and a half later, they were in Canada and Australia and about five years, the brand caught the attention of multinational company, Unilever, and was acquired.
A combination of technology-enabled tools — website, shopping cart, advertising platforms, global order fulfillment — is leveling the playing field for new brands (small to midmarket to large) and allowing them to compete on a global scale right beside longstanding household names with well-established networks.
As resources to facilitate commerce transactions are growing, the world is shrinking in the sense that consumers are increasingly comfortable buying internationally, provided they can do it easily and receive orders in a timely manner. With cross-border e-commerce expected to generate $1 trillion in revenue by 2021, the value of the global economy and international markets should not be ignored.
Fortunately, with the assistance of various technologies that connect to international networks ranging from business systems to payment transactions to global warehouses and more, nontraditional retailers can tap into the infrastructure they need not just to survive, but to thrive in the future of commerce.