Apr 17, 2020
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River Island e-store reopens as ParcelHero says "no longer a sin" to sell fashion online

Apr 17, 2020

River Island is the latest fashion retailer to reopen its online store with the news coming in the same week as delivery specialist ParcelHero said consumers are starting to be less judgmental of businesses selling non-essentials like fashion and seeking to continue online.

River Island

River Island has launched new safety measures in its warehouse after earlier temporarily closing its e-tail operations and Milton Keynes distribution centre last month.

Staff now have upgraded personal protection equipment with temperature checks at the site entrance, new safety signs in all areas, two-metre distancing zones and the whole site having been deep cleaned.

It’s clearly not business as usual though and delivery will take longer, with orders being processed within two weeks.

The company said it’s happy with its new arrangements and “more importantly, so are our teams”.

A number of stores have restarted their web operations having closed them in the early days of the lockdown. The closures had followed criticism from staff, trade unions and some consumers of an approach that was perceived as putting employees in danger in order to chase profits.

But, as ParcelHero said, “it’s no longer a sin to shop for non-essentials online”. The company said it “believes the government’s encouragement of e-commerce sales has convinced shoppers it’s no longer wrong” to buy items online that aren’t daily necessities.

David Jinks, Head of Consumer Research at the firm, said it means many mothballed online stores are now returning to business as home deliveries of non-essential items become acceptable again.

“Retailers of all sizes, from fashion giants to the smallest traders, closed the door on their online operations as well as their physical stores when lockdown was imposed,” he said. “The feeling was that home delivery services should be freed up for essential deliveries of items such as masks, hand gels and groceries. There was also concern that retailers and distribution centres would be unable to operate safely”. 

But with Business Secretary Alok Sharma having urged e-tailers to continue trading, and “pent-up demand for products to shake-off lockdown lethargy,” public attitudes are changing.

This has been helped by the strict measures retailers have put in place to protect staff.

The change is also resulting in e-tail giant Amazon increasing the range of products it will allow sellers to offer through its Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) service, whereby stock from certain sellers is stored in its warehouses prior to sale. Having recently banned many of their non-essential items from its website, Amazon is now reportedly relaxing its restrictions. Etsy and eBay have also introduced measures to encourage traders to stay up and running.

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