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Wayfair, other retailers adjust online operations to deal with COVID-19

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Retailers aren’t only adjusting their brick-and-mortar operations to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Several retailers are also taking action to help ensure their e-commerce business does not promote the spread of the virus to customers or employees. In an online letter signed by Wayfair co-founders Niraj Shah and Steve Conine, the online home furnishings giant said it is following guidance and best practices from the Centers from Disease Control (CDC). These include increased daily cleaning routines across all facilities and delivery operations (such as use of sanitizer and more frequent equipment cleaning).

For employees, Wayfair is providing emergency paid time off, asking employees to refrain from non-critical travel and establishing quarantine procedures after travel to high-risk areas, offering flex and remote-work schedules, and consulting with a medical expert in epidemiology and infectious disease to ensure it protecting workers’ well-being. 

The retailer is also offering an internal employee forum and says its customer service team will work with customers to answer any questions relating to health and safety and work on delivery options.

Specialty outdoor retailer has temporarily halted all operations, including e-commerce, in the U.S., Argentina, Chile, Japan, and across Europe in response to the pandemic. Operations in Australia and South Korea are continuing with modified work schedule in stores and offices, with stores closed in certain locations. 

A note from Rose Marcario, president and CEO of Patagonia, posted on the home page of the Patagonia e-commerce site says Patagonia hopes to have an update about online orders by Monday, March 23. All employees will receive regular pay during the two-week closure, and Patagonia says there will be delays on orders and customer service requests.

College bookstore operator Barnes & Noble Education is partnering with e-textbook provider VitalSource to offer free access to eTextbooks for students at campuses with Barnes & Noble Education stores that have closed due to COVID-19. Free access will last through the spring 2020 semester.

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