Dodging Disruption: How Big Brands Are Future-Proofing Their Business with Shopify Plus

Dodging Disruption: How Big Brands Are Future-Proofing Their Business with Shopify Plus

Gartner predicts that by this year (2017),

“20% of all market leaders will lose their number one position to a company founded after the year 2000 because of a lack of digital advantage.”

It’s a harsh reality that the retail industry must face, and all big brands need to prepare for massive disruption.

The fact that you already sell online doesn’t make you immune to the adoption of new technologies, and cultural shifts.

Thriving ecommerce businesses must constantly adapt and stay ahead of consumer shopping trends and behaviors which will look very different in the years to come.

The corporate and personal brands I’m about to highlight fearlessly embraced this tipping point and chose to enlist Shopify Plus as the go-to platform to experiment and learn how best to serve new customers in a rapidly evolving digital age.

Oreo Cookies: Embracing Self-Disruption

Many manufacturers are beginning to cut out the middle man and develop new channels to sell directly to consumers. It’s happening a lot in the consumer electronics world, but now food manufacturing and distribution is poised for disruption.

Recognizing this growing trend, Mondelez International, maker of Oreo cookies, wanted to reinvent its existing distribution models and experiment with selling cookies to consumers online.

Personalizing the Cookie Buying Experience

Mondelez tasked Lauren Fleischer, Brand Manager, Global Ecommerce at Oreo, with launching a brand new team, and developing a new ecommerce website to sell customizable cookie packaging, complete with personalized messages on the wrapper, just in time for the holiday rush:

“Brands either have to adapt or become irrelevant. Selling via ecommerce is not just another channel, it’s a new way to do business and a whole new way for us to sell.”

Oreo personalized packaging

The company worked with artists to create black and white packaging that could be colored-in by consumers, who could add their personal message (to friends, family, partners and more) before ordering their one-of-a-kind creations.

The Shopify Plus Advantage

Because the company had never had to package, ship, and accept payment and personal information from its customers before, the team knew they needed an ecommerce partner they could trust to make it happen.

Mondelez put its fate in the hands of Shopify Plus to help get the site up and running in just two months — fully equipped with a seamless checkout and customizable API that ensured an optimal cookie customization experience.

The holiday campaign experiment was such a success that Oreo plans to increase its ecommerce aspirations in the future. “We have a mantra around here and it’s all about being fearless,” says Fleischer. “We market fearlessly which means we’re disrupting the status quo to accelerate growth in ways that are also meaningful to customers.”

To learn how Oreo pulled it all off in such a short period, check out the full case study here.

The Economist: Evolving a Media Business Model

It’s no secret that the media industry has been struggling to find the right business model to remain competitive in the digital age. The Economist understood the need to ride, rather than resist, disruption and embrace ecommerce as part of its future success.

A Strategy to Stay Relevant

Recognizing that the magazine is in the business of “educating intelligent audiences,” the company set its sights on “developing new learning environments that create more value for subscribers and a new revenue stream for The Economist.”

The result was a new ecommerce website called that sells curated and editorially vetted online courses about entrepreneurship, leadership and finance from world-renowned experts.

Screenshot of

“ is so different for us,” says Ron Diorio, General Manager at “It’s the first time we’ve used outside content in a curated way to help our audience better understand the world.”

Thanks to its new partnership with Shopify Plus, the team was able to launch the website in a matter of weeks, and The Economist now offers exclusive career-building opportunities to its readers that cannot be found with other traditional business media publications.

Experimentation with Shopify Plus

The Economist team has since set its sights on experimenting with other ways to leverage ecommerce to future-proof its media and education business.

“It’s almost like Shopify Plus is creating land for us to build things where there was no land before,” Diorio says. “There really are no technical limitations now. If we want to do something all we have to do is plug it in and go.”

For more on and The Economist’s ecommerce experimentation, dive into the full case study here.

2 Chainz: Reinventing Old Revenue Streams

The music industry was one of the first businesses to be impacted by the advent of broadband internet, digital downloads and peer-to-peer file sharingback in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since then, musicians have been supplementing their incomes from touring, inking brand endorsements and selling merchandise.

But for major recording artists like rapper 2 Chainz, it’s difficult to guess exactly what type of merchandise will sell, and how much to keep in stock at any given time.

The Instagram + Ecommerce Experiment

After failing fast at selling merchandise online the traditional way, 2 Chainz’s manager, Charlie Jabaley, realized that in order to succeed, they’d need better t-shirt designs that incorporate the fans as part of the process.

2 Chainz Dabbing Santa Sweater

“People today want to buy something that represents them,” he says. “They want to be part of a movement.”

In partnership with Cap That, a brand that helps entrepreneurs create products based on moments captured in photos and video, Jabley developed a formula for quickly testing and iterating on designs posted on Instagram that get positive follower/fan feedback.

The most in-demand designs are then turned into merchandise and produced — reducing the amount of inventory they’d need to create and keep in stock.

Trusting Shopify Plus to Scale with Their Growth

The initial design experiments worked, but to scale the growth of the new merchandise design business, Jabaley turned to Shopify Plus as its trusted partner. The first major hit came during the holiday shopping season with a Dabbing Santa sweater design that generated $2.1 million in just 30 days.

“The push notifications on my Shopify smartphone app were going crazy,” Jabaley recalls. “In just a week we were doing in revenue what some of the biggest artists do in an entire month.”

To discover exactly how the fan-inspired design and ecommerce formula works, read the full case study here.

Will You Future-proof Your Business in Time?

Haven’t yet considered how your organization needs to change to remain relevant to digital consumers?

It’s never too late to disrupt or reinvent your distribution channels and revenue streams to ensure a brighter future for your business. But as the Gartner prediction implies, time is of the essence.

Is your platform holding you back?

Migrate from Magento and get your first 6 months free. Experience the speed, security, and support that over 400,000 merchants already trust.

Shopify Plus couples agility with a scalable foundation to grow bigger, faster.

Find out what happens when technology gets out of the way so you can ...

Build your business, not worry about your website.

About the Author

Andrea Wahbe is a freelance B2B marketing strategist and corporate storyteller who writes about Canadian SMEs, marketing, and digital media trends. Follow her on Twitter.