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EDITORIAL How retailers are working to serve customers while keeping them and staff safe

Halfords illustrates its measures in a film

Halfords illustrates its measures in a film

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we continue to report on the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic as it develops. Today our rolling news story reports on retailers including Halfords, Matalan, Aldi, Ikea and Mothercare, and includes research from sources including Nielsen, Awin and Nosto as well as updates from related industries, including the FTA and Hammerson.

We’ve given more space to figures showing the scale of supermarket pandemic spending in recent weeks, and and to Asos as it insists its warehouse is a safe place to work during the pandemic. And we have guest analysis from Matthew Robertson of NetDespatch, who considers how retail supply chains can find new and and effective ways to operate.

A theme that is emerging from our reporting today is a growing tension around ensuring that retail workers can stay safe while continuing to deliver to shoppers who still want to buy from them. Last week we reported as some non-essential retailers opted to close their online websites as well as their stores and today we report as Asos staff say they are concerned that the warehouse they work at is now safe (although the retailer refutes this).

Today, we also report on how both Halfords and Ikea are rethinking the role of their stores in serving online customers – offering, perhaps, some best practice examples of how it can be done. 

Halfords has made a film showing in detail how its stores are now taking more of a trade counter approach, delivering multichannel services such as click and collect and paperless returns, while also making motoring services available. Ikea is using its shops to deliver online services including click and collect at a safe distance.  Matalan’s move to give its warehouse staff the option of furlough seems a sensible one.

Elsewhere, we report as Mothercare says its wider range will be on sale via Boots in store and online from the end of the summer. Today’s guest comment, from Steve Pitts of Tag, was written before the outbreak of Covid-19 but remains relevant as retailers reconsider the role of their stores in a world where a growing proportion of sales is taking place online. 

Image courtesy of Halfords

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