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How Technology Kept Halfords’ Wheels Turning

As lockdowns shut shops and e-commerce spiked, Halfords raced to minimise its business disruptions.

Behind every frontline worker is a network of other workers that enables them to carry out their duties.

Take transport, for example. Ambulances and police cars need to be in good working order, nurses and supermarket workers need to get to work on time, and vans or lorries are vital for delivering essential equipment.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, auto repairs and servicing were on the UK’s list of essential services that needed to stay open for business.

“We needed to keep our laser focus on providing the best possible essential service to our customers, many of whom are key workers,” explains Neil Holden, Group IT Director of Halfords, the British bicycle and automotive retail and servicing company.

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Seismic shift

For Halfords, offering a high level of customer service during the crisis was no mean feat, given the raft of rapid changes and necessary new regulations it had to contend with.

Many stores were temporarily closed and there was a spike in e-commerce activity, requiring significant and quick changes to stock and personnel requirements.

It also meant warehouse management systems had to be reassessed and redesigned, the movement of some goods was revised, while there also needed to be continual monitoring and liaising with vendors. Some orders even needed to be reprocessed manually to keep their schedule on track.