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How Coronavirus is Impacting E-Commerce

HVO Search brought together leaders in Fashion, Beauty, Luxury & Lifestyle to discuss how Covid-19 is impacting e-commerce.

Covid-19 has dramatically changed our consumer behaviour.


What we choose to buy and how we buy it is radically different to a few months ago.  


There is no “business as usual” right now. Brands who will succeed, must pivot their strategies to put e-commerce and digital at the forefront. 


In this article, we explore the key takeaways from the topics raised in our HVO Search Live discussion - How Coronavirus is Impacting E-Commerce.

The Questions We Explored...

During our discussion, we explored the following: 

Will e-commerce save the day?

What is the impact of the crisis on customer behaviour & expectations?

What trends will emerge from this crisis?

What skills companies need right now and which ones need to be reinforced after the crisis?

Key Take-Aways
Will e-commerce save the day?

E-commerce is booming, but is unlikely to compensate for offline business in the near future.

Conversion rates on websites have multiplied between two and three depending on the country (Guerlain). 

Leaders are facing issues surrounding safety policy and daily business with transportation and delivery companies. 

Omni-channel strategy is working as relationships are maintained and sales arranged via customer care

This virus will accelerate digital transformation for SMEs

A lot of the big e-commerce companies have been highly affected by their distribution centres and warehouses in terms of being able to deliver products. Disruption even affects smaller businesses. 

Focus has shifted to online content, as brands hope to see customer acquisition through media partners, influencers, affiliate partners and pure brand promotion.

The type of content that matters to people has completely shifted. They expect much more caring and personal content that promotes solidarity. 

Companies are offering social insight as well as advice and quarantine related content. 

When you deal with a luxury brand, a key question is how do you secure brand equity right now? For Guerlain, everything tends to be centralised, except for China which has an 70% central and 30% local. Things are moving so quickly in China and local specificity are so different and so important.

What is the impact of the crisis on customer behaviour & expectations?

Customers are spending more time navigating the web. Their social network, television and gaming consumption is booming.

People understand that they can do more things online and this will stay after Covid-19. Companies need to unlock new online services e.g. beauty consultations. 

At the start of self-isolation, e-commerce purchases were down and now they are rising rapidly. Companies are pivoting their digital strategies to take advantage of the new digital space we all operate in.

France and the UK are seeing good sales, especially in skincare, but the market is competitive and some brands are really struggling. 

The pandemic will cause leaders to think more locally when it comes to supply chains.

Businesses are having to reinvent how they are organised and how effective their processes are. 

Cities and countries are opening up differently at the moment, this may stay after restrictions have opened. 

Brands are using boutiques to manage stock and distribute to customers.

What trends will emerge from this crisis?

Social commerce will increase and businesses will focus more on how to strategise with the best advocates with their brand.

The type of content people are interested will be different. The way people are consuming content and using social media right now will change their online habits. 

Sustainability will accelerate as people have seen the positive effects on our environment as a result of lockdown.

Companies showing their authenticity and caring for employees, community and customers.

The moral impacts companies are making will continue as this pandemic has redefined our values.

What skills companies need right now and which ones need to be reinforced after the crisis?

People skilled in e-commerce, especially bridging the gap between digital and physical.

Leaders with digital skills who think of how digital will work best creatively and commercially.

Companies need to improve their user experience and the services they offer. Consumers want more than just product. 

Content creators and those who can use social insights to adapt strategy. 

Data management, to identify trends and understand what they mean for the brand and industry. 

Crisis management is key, especially for smaller businesses.

Our Panelists
Maria Hvorostovsky, Founder & CEO of HVO Search

HVO Search is a specialist Executive Search, Talent Mapping & Advisory firm working at the intersection of retail, digital and technology.


Maria spent 7 years at some of the world’s leading consumer and fashion Executive Search firms before founding HVO Search in 2012 with the mission to make hiring the best people simple.


At HVO Search she developed a unique in-house methodology based on applied Behavioural Science. Its purpose is to streamline the executive search process and provide additional data points to enhance decision making.


Maria regularly hosts industry events, bringing together leaders in Fashion, Beauty, Luxury and Lifestyle this includes her “Women Who Win” series allowing female leaders to connect and share their insights and experiences.  

Jean-Denis Mariani, Chief Digital Officer at Guerlain (LVMH)

Since his appointment in February 2018, Jean-Denis has accelerated digital transformation at Guerlain through e-business, CRM, customer care, content, digital activation, social media, innovation and data management in over 35 countries. 


A graduate of NEOMA Business School, Jean-Denis started his career within Accenture as a CRM Consultant before joining Expedia as Operations Director for the French division and then for Europe.


In 2006, he was part of the small team that created Poweo in the utilities market. In 2010, he joined Betclic Group as Deputy CEO before moving to Smartbox as Digital CEO. Since 2015, Jean-Denis was the Chief Digital Officer of L’Oréal Professional Beauty Division driving the digital transformation and e-commerce acceleration (B2B and B2C) for 10 brands (Kerastase, L'Oréal Professionnel, Redken, Matrix…) over 64 countries through a consumer centric model.

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