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Bloomberg has a story about how Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry's has been taking its business online, finding a variety of ways to get product to customers during the pandemic.

Here's how Bloomberg frames the story:

"As restaurants shut down during the pandemic, crimping out-of-home sales, Unilever stepped up to the challenge of accepting customers’ orders at the click of a button and getting Ben & Jerry’s tubs to them before they liquefy.

"Unilever’s Ice Cream Now online business, started about three years ago, is in full gear, delivering flavors such as Ben & Jerry’s Netflix and Chill’d. The Anglo-Dutch company has been forming partnerships with the likes of Domino’s Pizza and Deliveroo to build a wide network of e-commerce avenues. As heat waves spurred demand in recent months, Unilever could quickly adapt to changing consumer behavior because it had the online ice-cream business ready.

"That helped Unilever defy analysts’ expectations for a slump in second-quarter revenue because of lockdowns. Growth in at-home consumption offset a 35% drop in on-the-go sales of ice cream. Online sales helped because they typically command prices higher than at supermarkets."

The story notes that "Ben & Jerry’s has its own online store, and the flavors are also available through food-delivery specialists such as Grubhub and DoorDash that have enjoyed a surge in demand during global lockdowns as people tire of cooking extra meals for their families. The dessert arrives in a cooler with dry ice that keeps it at about -110 degrees Fahrenheit (-79 Celsius), cold enough to stay frozen until the evening of the delivery date, according to the website."

KC's View:

I think this is very smart … and also ought to be motivation for retailers to forge more innovative partnerships with suppliers, lest they be disintermediated out of the relationship.

For years I've been ordering ice cream online - I love Graeter's, and while some of its flavors (like its Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip) are carried by some local supermarkets, I can go online and have access to a lot more flavors (like Maple Cinnamon Crunch, which in my house we refer to as French Toast ice cream).  I think of this as a long and particularly delicious tail…