Article | September 7, 2017

Bringing On Workers To Support Holiday Hustle

Holiday Wrapping Paper

As more people shop online, job opportunities in the fulfillment and transportation sectors have expanded dramatically to ensure consumers' holiday packages arrive at their doors on time. Kelly Scally, Director of Strategic Staffing at Radial, recently took time to answer our questions about hiring seasonal fulfillment workers, how to plan for the unplannable, and more.

Q: What major pain points are associated with hiring seasonal fulfillment workers and what can be done to overcome them?

Scally: There are several major pain points that cause the most trouble for retailers:

  • Timeframe: Peak season is indeed an entire season and encompasses a lot more than just Black Friday and Christmas. To accommodate the level of increased activity in e-commerce during this timeframe, retailers need to recruit workers as early as August.
  • Changing face of retail: As consumers continue to move online for their holiday shopping needs, seasonal job opportunities are shifting from traditional brick-and-mortar sales roles to those focused on fulfillment, transportation, and customer care. Growth is increasingly apparent in this sector (Radial anticipates a 15 percent increase in peak hiring demand within its own facilities this year), but the average local resident may not know these newer retail jobs exist or how to apply. There is an inherent awareness problem that needs to be overcome to meet internal needs.
  • Hiring wars: Competition within the e-commerce industry and the fight for talent to keep up with the demand.

Overcoming these difficulties isn’t easy, but it can be accomplished by:

  • Effectively communicating any and all open roles while prioritizing and highlighting the work perks.
  • Leveraging digital avenues such as social media marketing and digital advertising.
  • Outsourcing. For many retailers, outsourcing offers the key to providing the flexibility, scale, and depth needed to deliver an Amazon-like customer experience affordably. Working with a partner who can scale your operations quickly and cost-effectively can mean the difference between meeting demand or playing a losing game of catch-up.

Q: When do you begin planning for staffing fulfillment centers and what is that process like?

Scally: With 24 distribution centers and six call centers throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe we’re constantly thinking about prepping for peak season. To support our clients in their need to meet the growing demands of peak season, we planned ahead to ensure the company could scale workforce by more than 400 percent. Our teams have been addressing these hiring challenges head on since May — with announcements for all our key hiring areas released in July and August — so local job-seekers are well aware of these new positions early on in the process. Residents are encouraged to apply online here for an anticipated 27,000+ positions in key areas like KY, NV, CA, VA, FL, WI, TN, and more. Interviews are conducted on rolling basis, and we also hold job fairs in certain on-site locations to prompt more applications.

Q: How is mobile being leveraged this year and what new technologies are improving and/or complicating fulfillment centers?

Scally: Anti-fraud technology is critical for retailers and fulfillment centers this peak season. With more consumers shopping online, there is a heightened threat of fraudulent transactions. According to Experian, e-commerce fraud increased 33 percent in 2016 over the previous year. This growth rate is expected to continue in 2017 as the total number of breaches has already increased 56 percent compared to the same period of time in 2016. During the 2016 peak season (November 20 – January 2), Radial’s fraud lab protected its clients from a record number of attacks worth roughly $13.9M. With fraudsters implementing new tactics every day, retailers can’t afford to assume fraud attacks as the status quo any longer, especially during peak.

Q: Unavoidable variables including weather, last-minute shoppers, increased demand, etc. always occur. What contingencies do you have in place to overcome them?

Scally: Radial spends a significant amount of time each year building a robust strategy to prepare for any and all staffing and operations variables, both expected and unexpected. All of these contingency plans are built into our overall strategy at the onset of the season and are executed as needed. In addition, we maintain strong agency partnerships in all of our key markets to bolster our efforts and ensure that we reach our peak goals