As they brace for what’s expected to be intense holiday demand, warehouse operators are boosting pay, acquiring more talent, and enlisting robots, reported The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 26).
TALENT ACQUISITION PUSH
Demand for distribution workers has been soaring as more consumers are shopping online. Picking, packing, and shipping e-commerce orders is more labor-intensive than traditional warehouse operations that distribute wholesale goods or replenish inventory.
On top of already high demand, more people are leaving the workforce because of concerns about getting sick or to care for family members. This has caused an intense hiring push among retailers.
One million people around the world applied for jobs at Amazon during a recent recruiting event, following the company’s announcement that it plans to hire 125,000 warehouse and transportation workers in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Walmart plans to hire 20,000 workers for its supply chain operations ahead of the holidays and Target expects to hire 100,000 seasonal staffers this year.
The push for workers is also driving sharp increases in pay. Wages for e-commerce workers have jumped from between $13 and $15 per hour to as much as $19 in some markets led by the sector’s largest operators, according to logistics executives.
Starting pay for Amazon workers is now up to $22 per hour in some locations and the average hourly wage for supply-chain workers at Walmart is now $20.37.
USE OF ROBOTICS
Companies are increasingly utilizing robotics to navigate the holiday season. For example, DHL Supply Chain is adding hundreds more collaborative robots that navigate warehouse aisles to help workers pick orders.
Additionally, GXO Logistics Inc. added 40% more robotics and automation systems in North America in 2021 and plans to open nine new automated U.S. sites to support e-commerce this year.
Among grocers at the forefront of using robotics is Hy-Vee. The Midwest retailer recently partnered with Simbe Robotics to introduce the autonomous inventory management and retail intelligence solution, Tally, to several stores, reported Progressive Grocer (Sept. 23). Tally scans thousands of products across grocery aisles to make sure products are in stock, in the right place, and correctly priced.