Putting people first in eCommerce 

Covid19 has put eCommerce at the forefront of retail, with Lacoste and Gymshark refusing to put their employees on furlough. OpenBlend explores how these businesses have kept employees happy, productive and connected, whilst remaining focused on growth.

eCommerce: how Lacoste and Gymshark have navigated the pandemic 

According to a new global study of 5,000 consumers, online shopping is up from 28% since pre-COVID-19, accelerating the shift away from physical stores by five years. And with such a dramatic U-turn in consumers’ lives, shopping trends have changed, resulting in 29% of people now shopping more online than in-person. But what does this mean for eCommerce in the UK?    

Best feet forward 

The coronavirus has put eCommerce at the forefront of retail, causing widespread store closures and stay-at-home orders. In fact, the surge in online shopping has resulted in UK eCommerce predictions upgrading from £73.6bn to £78.9bn. And while it’s been reported that clothing declined in importance as more consumers began working and schooling from home, Lacoste and Gymshark have proved otherwise.  

Even in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, Lacoste refused to put its staff on furlough, maintaining its salaries worldwide. ‘In order to play our role as best we can in these uncertain times,‘ CEO Thierry Guibert told Fashion United, ‘and to be true to our values of solidarity and teamwork, we have chosen to maintain the salaries of all Lacoste employees at 100% of their fixed salary for March and April 2020.’ 

Since then, the French lifestyle brand has produced 100,000 facemasks in an effort to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, with the company telling The Independent that ‘the commitment of the Lacoste teams is as strong as ever.’ Pledging to reach 200,000 masks, and looking to expand its brand family, economic hardship caused by the pandemic is yet to be felt at Lacoste, with many consumers shopping via eCommerce channels. Much like Gymshark. 

Flexing their muscles 

Named as having the fastest-growing profits among private companies in Britain, Gymshark has so far weathered the impact of the pandemic. How? By only selling direct to customers from its website and, as Gymshark Owner Ben Francis told Birmingham Live, ‘we’re in a very fortunate position where a lot of people all of a sudden were more active.’   

The retailer’s full-year revenues to July 2020 reached £258m, up from £176m in 2019, with the business still gunning for international growth. ‘COVID-19 hasn’t derailed our international expansion plans,’ Ben explained to Drapers, ‘but it means we’ve had to pivot, adjust and be very agile.’  

However, even with a mission to drive customer centricity, building a community with consumers hasn’t been the only route to its success. 


With zero employees on furlough and salaries paid in full to those who can’t work from home, Gymshark has continued to be hyper-aware of their employee’s wellbeing. Similarly to Lacoste, whose top priority has always been to do the right thing for employees while upholding its values of team spirit, courage and tenacity – the driving force of the company since it was founded in 1933.  

But with Gymshark reaching unicorn status and Lacoste expanding at a steady pace, how can they – and other eCommerce retailers – keep staff happy, productive and connected, while remaining focused on growth?   

people-centric approach to performance management.  

With ever-increasing pressures of a second lockdown, an uncertain trading environment and many staff members working remotely, a change in management is essential. Whether office-based, fully remote or hybrid, businesses can use OpenBlend’s performance management software to maintain open, honest conversations, ensuring every individual performs to their best ability. Resulting in better business outcomes and an environment for employees to thrive to the best of their abilities. 

Gymshark and Lacoste Footwear are just two of many businesses already experiencing the benefits of OpenBlend, with Adam Davies, People Development Manager at Gymshark calling it the ‘tool for remote management at this moment in time.’ And Gianni Georgiades, Lacoste Footwear CEO telling us that the business has ‘seen a significant increase in not just the wellbeing scores recorded by colleagues, but also the levels of confidence and competence of our leaders in having meaningful and impactful conversations.’ 

Enabling their teams to provide managers and executives with the tools to support them, OpenBlend has already had an impact on the businesses, supporting their people to stay connected, positive and productive.  

To find out what  people-centric performance management  can do for your business, give OpenBlend a call on 01628 613040, email or book a free demo with us today.

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