Holland & Barrett leverages store inventory in ecommerce boom

Industry: Healthcare, food
Region: Europe, Middle East, Asia
Founded 1870
Products: Ship to/from store

Weeks to implement

Stores integrated

Greater network flexibility

Reduced customer contact

COVID-19 sped us up but it didn’t alter our course.


Holland & Barrett is one of Europe’s leading health and wellness retailers, with over 800 stores in the UK and Ireland. The company offers a broad range of specialist food, vitamins, supplements, sports nutrition and ethical beauty brands. The company has both a physical and online presence, with the latter hugely increasing in importance during the pandemic.

classed as an essential retailer, Holland & Barrett could stay open during the pandemic. Demand for products remained high, especially in an increasingly health-conscious populace. However, footfall fell, and many customers moved online.


The company has made several major transformations to its network during the pandemic, with its original 12- to 18-month omnichannel roadmap being implemented in a matter of weeks.

“COVID-19 sped us up but it didn’t alter our course,” explains Paz Khorana, Head of Multichannel Operations, praising the retailer’s internal technology team for their performance during the pandemic.

In the early stages of the pandemic, the primary focus was on expanding capacity to meet the surge in demand. Working with delivery management software provider Metapack, the retailer expanded its Click & Collect capabilities and added the ability to fulfill online orders from stores. This capability to ship online orders from stores took less than two weeks to implement.

Holland & Barrett also added a pop-up fulfillment center with carrier DHL as an additional support channel for online fulfillment, while tapping into on-demand app Deliveroo’s network for additional delivery capacity.



Since these changes took place early in 2020, the UK has seen restrictions loosened over the summer before being strengthened again during November and again in late December. In the relatively normal periods between full lockdowns, the retailer has been able to not just focus on capacity but on “serving customers better”.

This was measured partly according to the contact center, with one KPI being how many customers were getting in touch compared to the number of orders that were being placed. The other KPI was how well the customer promise was being met. With the customer in mind, the changes around shipping from store were taken further. The Metapack solution is now integrated into 75 stores.

This adds considerable flexibility to the network, since stores can be activated and deactivated according to necessity. The number of stores shipping has ranged from around 20 during early December to roughly 50 now. Khorana views delivery as a key ingredient in differentiating in the online space.

“It’s great having a fantastic online experience but you need that fulfillment proposition to back that up. We will follow customers’ leads as shopping habits change.”

It’s great having a fantastic online experience but you need that fulfillment proposition to back that up. We will follow customers’ leads as shopping habits change.

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