When thinking about seasonal hiring for the holidays, challenges for retail and logistics companies are daunting. For the average person, this time of year means extra PTO, magical moments with the kids, and a lot of pumpkin spice lattes. For retailers and logistics companies, however, it’s a sprint as consumer activity ramps up.
Let’s take a look at a few numbers.
Google reports that store foot traffic increases by 65% on Black Friday, as compared to other shopping weekends in November. In addition the New York Times reports that consumers spent approximately $8.9 billion online on Black Friday, and although this was slightly less than in 2020, consumers spent more between November 1st and 28th than in past years. This change means companies must assess their seasonal hiring needs even earlier in the year to feel prepared when spending picks up. Below are five things to consider when your company starts its holiday hiring plans:
1. Consumer Activity Drives Hiring
Year after year, retail and ecommerce trends continue to evolve and consumer behavior continues to drive company hiring needs. For example, Adobe reports that consumer spending around the holidays began as early as November 11, reaching $4 billion and was $10.7 billion by November 29. With the pandemic, however, and anticipated inventory shortages due to expected logistical delays in the supply chain, it may be shocking to learn that 31% of U.S. holiday shoppers actually began their holiday shopping in June.
People are also supporting more local businesses than before, with 60% of U.S. consumers saying they will shop more at local small businesses, according to Google. This presents a hiring challenge for many small businesses who will need to staff up more than in years past.
In addition, consumers continue to use phones and tablets to research and make purchases. This means companies must have staff that can help with in-store purchases but also behind-the-scenes work like inventory management, to ensure a smooth shopping experience across online and in-store. More than 50% of last minute holiday shoppers, for example, say they will check online to make sure the item they want is in stock before purchasing in-store.
Convenience has also become a shopping trend, with many stores offering in-store pick up, curbside pick-up, or home delivery, often utilizing third-party services like Instacart for delivery drivers.
And in case the shopping landscape isn’t robust enough, social media shopping has also gained traction, a new term coined ‘social commerce’. Sixty-six percent of weekly Facebook users surveyed in the U.S. who discover new brands or products online typically do so via Facebook, according to Facebook Discovery Commerce. U.S. social commerce sales in 2020 were estimated at nearly 27 billion, and is projected to reach 79.6 billion by 2025, accounting for 5.2 percent of U.S. retail e-commerce sales. All of these opportunities will require additional employees to keep them running. Some of the nation’s largest retailers are leading the way by appealing to workers with competitive pay and other benefits.
2. The Supply Chain Is Impacted by the Holidays, Too
Increased consumer activity doesn’t just affect the number of sales associates you need on the floor and in call centers. It also requires more hands-on deck to move goods from warehouses to distribution centers and stores or, in the case of online sales, into mailboxes and driveways.
To support supply chain needs, companies will need to hire more people to receive, sort, pack, load, and deliver purchases. They will also need to partner with carriers to transport goods and plan in advance for increased shipping times and elevated costs.
Hiring additional supply chain workers won’t be easy, however, especially in light of a supply chain talent shortage that continues to squeeze companies across the nation. To overcome this challenge, companies will need to invest in strategic hiring initiatives while also streamlining operations. Automation tools that help with package sorting or route planning can help, as well as hiring perks like competitive pay.
3. Seasonal Worker Skill Set Matters
Serving customers well during the holiday season means filling out your ranks with additional workers to keep processes running smoothly. Even though these hires aren’t permanent, their skill set and experience is important. Here’s why:
- Customer experience matters. Excellent customer experiences will drive spending and customer loyalty for in-store and online purchases, and that means you will need enough employees to serve customers efficiently. You also need to make sure they have experience in customer service or even, if you’re lucky, working during busy holiday times. It’s often difficult to train employees on the art of customer service at a time that is so busy. If you must hire inexperienced customer service workers, be sure to give them plenty of time to learn from your seasoned staff prior to the holiday rush.
- Your supply chain needs support. Be sure you have enough supply chain support to meet the increased demands created by online shopping and higher consumer spending. This may mean more staff for inventory and unboxing once deliveries arrive, or it may mean logistics support for deliveries or management of delivery vendors your company utilizes. When inventory isn’t in stock, consumers are more likely to try a new brand. You won’t want your company to miss the opportunity for that sale to a loyal customer.
- Competitive pay is important. Amazon has raised their starting pay to $18 per hour, and Target is now offering $15 per hour as a minimum starting wage. Take a close look at your pay rates to remain competitive and attract the best workers.
When gearing up for any holiday season, seeking out quality seasonal employees is one of the best ways to give your customers an unforgettable experience.
And that could be the key to putting some extra jolly and sparkle in your sales numbers.