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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.


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.

In the midst of all this change, much of the workforce found itself working remotely, sometimes for the first time.








In search of solutions

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is helping Halfords keep the wheels of its business turning. It is just one of the 1,000-plus clients that TCS is partnering with to support mission-critical technology backbones for leading organisations around the world.

The TCS team took swift actions to manage problems, working to coordinate with all stakeholders across the value stream. This involved keeping a relentless focus on the fundamental technical drill, while at the same time finding creative solutions to ensure Halfords’ customers did not experience disruptions. Much of this was facilitated through Secure Borderless Workspaces™ (SBWS™) – a framework developed by TCS to ensure business continuity by allowing associates to work from home with minimal support from office-based colleagues.

In addition, TCS has been proactively deploying collaboration platforms, cloud-enabled infrastructure and robust security practices, so its clients can continue all their critical operations in these unprecedented times.

Indeed, the work of the Halfords technology team was singled out for praise by Halfords’ senior management, for their tireless work and all they have managed to achieve during a high- pressure period.

The Halfords story is a powerful example of how companies can make sure their business processes are seamless — even at this most difficult of times — and of how TCS can be an integral partner in that process.

By forging strategic partnerships that enable them to adapt quickly and accurately to fast-moving scenarios, businesses can still provide the services that are needed to support our key workers and indeed the whole of society.