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2020 eCommerce and the Seasonal Hiring Surge

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As employment remains a question mark for the wider economy, recruitment in the logistics sector is entering a familiar phase: the rush to secure adequate resources to handle the holiday peak.

We've already written about how the 2020 peak season will be different to those we've seen in recent years. Sales will be extended and the delivery network will be stretched throughout the traditional shipping peak. The surge in logistics hiring is a phenomenon that always accompanies this period, but 2020 marks an acceleration, as well as new challenges around how these seasonal workers will operate.

Seasonal Hiring Surge?

Our CEO Jeff Kaiden spoke to the Wall Street Journal in September to discuss what we've seen in our industry.

“We saw maybe a 500% uptick in e-commerce business since March,” says Kaiden in the article (subscription required), confirming that he expects to bring in around 30% more peak season team members than previous years.

Of course, these new workers will be subject to the same safety precautions and sanitization regimens that Capacity has strictly adhered to since the early days of the pandemic.

Across the industry, similar carefully-calculated hiring expansions are occurring. The WSJ points out that warehousing and storage payrolls have already added 32,200 jobs in September, with many more expected during the critical preparation month of October. This contrasts with the uncertainty across the US economy as a whole, which is struggling to shake off the ongoing unknowns of coronavirus, global trade disagreements, and the turbulence of an election year.

The certainty that these workers are not only be required but that they will be facing an even longer peak season than usual stems from the unprecedented activity of the preceding six months. Despite all the challenges we've covered around retail during a pandemic, customers have flocked to online ordering to cover everything from their daily essentials to items that make them feel better during difficult times. That commitment is not expected to diminish as we enter the holiday season, leading analysts to predict further surges that could see eCommerce expand to as much as one-third of this year's total retail sales during peak.

As we've pointed out in past articles, this activity is likely to stretch resources to breaking point for those who haven't fully prepared. Staffing agencies in the sector are already pointing to transport companies as a potential pain point, with supervisors and shift managers primed to take the driver's seat if the positions they need aren't filled soon. For many companies, this number translates to tens of thousands of people, all of whom need to be trained in a short space of time in a safe and socially-distant way.

At this point, plans should already be in place and the logistics sector is holding its breath to handle the first wave of online orders. Once that wave hits, it's unlikely to recede significantly until after the traditional rush of Thanksgiving/Cyber Week, after which the focus shifts to parcel carriers, who have already imposed substantial surcharges for shipping activity during this

For consumers, the message is a simple one: buy gifts and place other crucial online orders as early as you can. Once the season gets into full swing, even with the seasonal hiring surge mentioned above, there's a significant question mark over how much of this extra eCommerce activity the existing infrastructure can handle.

The path to less stressful peak seasons starts with the right fulfillment partner. With suitable technology and passionate, experienced people, your brand can handle anything the eCommerce surge throws at it. 

If you have challenges with your existing order fulfillment set up this year, contact us to discuss a custom solution that better serves your brand.