Adapting e-commerce during COVID-19 — meet Isabel, our Nordic Management Trainee

Agility and the ability to adapt to new situations fast — this is, according to our Nordic Management Trainee Isabel, essential in times of COVID-19. After two rotations in Norway, she had just started her third rotation in Sweden when the coronavirus outbreak started in the Nordics. In the following, she shares her experience with the current situation within e-commerce, and how it rapidly changed her workday to home office (like most employees), online client meetings, a shift in priorities as well as seeking new opportunities, in these unprecedented times.

Tell us, what do you do in L’Oréal?

My name is Isabel, I am 26 years old and I come from Sweden. I started at L’Oréal as a Management Trainee shortly after I graduated from my Master’s degree in Management at Uppsala University. So far, I have been in three different rotations; my first two rotations were in Oslo, Norway within Marketing and Sales & Business Development, and now I am doing my last rotation in my home country, Sweden within e-commerce and sales. I was supposed to work from the Stockholm office, but due to the coronavirus, we were all sent to work from home in March. This has, of course, changed my third rotation quite a bit!

How is a typical workday within e-commerce?

E-commerce means e-business. The “e” stands for electronic. In e-commerce, you work with clients, who have the entire or part of their business online and thus sell our products to the end-consumers on their online platform. As a Management Trainee, I have many different tasks, but my main responsibility is to assist the Key Account Managers and support our clients. I usually start my day by looking at the last day's sales figures, create a separate update for e-commerce and forward it to the team. I work with all our products in the Consumer Products Division, and as I am responsible for all the content in Sweden within e-commerce, I usually receive many emails from our clients in regards to changes, additional information etc. Moreover, I prepare internal and external presentations — right now, I am for example preparing a presentation for a client on our different Christmas product boxes.

I mostly work with what we call our “Pure Players”, which means that these clients have the majority of their business online. They might have 1 or 2 physical stores, but the rest is online. An example could be Lyko, which is one of the biggest players in the Swedish e-commerce market within beauty. Makeup is the biggest category within e-commerce, but along with the pandemic, we currently see that also other categories are growing.

How has the coronavirus changed the field you currently work in?

Many things have changed, even though Sweden didn’t have the same restrictions as the rest of Europe. Nonetheless, we see a big change in consumer behavior, use of channels, demand, and demographics: we can, for example, see more traffic going towards some specific channels, and products such as soaps, hygiene, hair coloration and haircare products are in a much higher demand than they used to be. We, therefore, want to make sure that we capture these new opportunities and demands. There is so much happening and you can work with this on SO many levels — it is really interesting to monitor.

Consumer Products Division initiative to create team spirit and a sense of belonging while working from home

How has the coronavirus changed your daily work and tasks?

In L’Oréal, e-commerce has been a great focus for a long time, but due to the COVID-19 situation, e-commerce has never been as much on people’s minds as it is right now. So in these strange times, where nothing is as it used to be, we are very busy, I get new and challenging tasks every day, and I never know what will come tomorrow. I am really happy to be part of this transformation but it also requires that I am agile and good at adapting to new situations at all times.

All employees in the Nordics have been working from home for a couple of weeks now. In the beginning, it was nice to be able to work from home but after a while, it definitely gets more challenging and hard to keep the line between work- and private life. What I miss the most, is the social part of the work, especially the chats with the colleagues at the coffee machine :). I had only been in my new position in Sweden for 2 months when the coronavirus broke out and changed everything, so I more or less only know my colleagues via the virtual world. But I have daily check-ins with my Manager, a team meeting every second week, so I still feel a part of the team.

Team meeting with the Consumer Products Division e-commerce team

We have all become experts at virtual meetings, and we now also do this for external client meetings. Due to the many restrictions as well as the travel ban, we, of course, had to cancel all our big client meetings and organize them online instead. Everything has worked out really well, which is actually no surprise to me since we are a Nordic organization and therefore used to having online meetings with our colleagues in Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki. Nevertheless, I really hope we can return to the office very soon.

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