The Gig Economy and the Retail Industry: What to Expect in 2021

When hearing the term “gig economy,” it’s understandable to immediately think of industry giants, such as Uber and Airbnb. These apps completely disrupted the transportation and hospitality industries. They shifted the way consumers interact with those services and how the entire world operates. 

However, it’s not only in those industries that the gig economy is making a significant impact.

Namely, the gig economy has been part of the retail industry since Amazon started offering expedited delivery options. Many eCommerce companies followed suit, contracting out the work to third-party platforms for hastened transport to keep up with the competition.

Instacart – and similar companies – contracted workers for online order fulfillment at grocery stores need same-day delivery solutions.

Despite this evolution in the above examples, traditional staffing models were predominantly still relied upon. Dated methods such as checkout and stocking inventory were being used even though there were high attrition levels and volatile demand.  

It’s taken much cajoling and a few helpful nudges in the correct direction. But it seems this highly efficient form of employment is being adopted on a broader basis throughout retail.

A Wider Scale Shift to Gig Workers in the Retail Industry

Developers have launched multiple apps throughout the past few years focused on the retail gig economy. The intent is to provide more flexibility to retail workers while giving companies vaster access to labor for an increasing array of tasks.

The whole point is for people to perform one-off shifts for a few extra dollars, whether it’s restocking shelves or loading and unloading inventory.

Given that more jobs are included in these apps, and more retail companies are buying in, the industry is on the verge of a considerable transformation.

Who is Driving this Change?

Jyve is a company that recently raised $35 million in venture capital. With the app, users perform one-off tasks for stores and brands after signing up.

Differentiating Jyve from the pack is how it pays a fixed rate by the task and not the hour. Whether it takes the person 1 hour or 5 hours to stock a shelf, they get paid the predetermined fee. The “Jyver” provides a job rating and gets rated by the temporary employer, helping the worker land better gigs as they keep going.

Retailers seeking out seasonal help and people to fill the gap for high turnover work due to physical demand (e.g., pallet unloading, warehouse upkeep) benefit most from Jyve. Since the app provides the training, it soothes pain points related to training and job attrition. It serves to streamline processes and keep things running without a hitch despite fluxing employment.

Generally, Jyve is used by traditional grocers and retailers with back-end stocking for home deliveries. This allows full-time employees to continue their regular workflow.

There are currently 6,000 Jyve users working in around 4,000 stores throughout 31 states.

Furthermore, Snag Work is a job app that pays gigged workers hourly for individual shifts at retail stores and restaurants. Beyond the seven markets this platform currently operates in, it’s planning to expand to five new ones.

A New Way to Work

Anybody using Snag benefits from knowing they’ll earn $10 per hour at minimum, though many gigs offer more substantial earnings.

Retailers get charged a 25% service fee from the hourly wage and onboarding costs. With the urgency involved in hiring temporary help, Snag often offers better rates than staffed workers. 

The way that Snag approaches its workers is revolutionary. It allows those signed up to the platform to become W2 workers for the company; thus, they’re eligible for benefits.

A Growing Trend Due to Adverse Circumstances

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites retail employment has declined 1% since January 2017.

Traditional retailers, including TopShop, Gymboree, and Payless ShoeSource, have experienced mass closures.

Therefore, companies trying to survive in these challenging circumstances will rely on the gig economy to offset HR costs.

Will These Platforms Play a Pivotal Role During Black Friday?

Retailers who see massive seasonal shifts benefit most from Snag. For instance, Party City requires an influx of help during peak party holidays such as Halloween.

With Black Friday near, these gig economy platforms will prove highly valuable. It’s been an incredibly challenging year for businesses due to the pandemic. All the same, the holidays will still drive customers to make purchases (albeit not in-store). Apps like Snag and Jyve streamline the temporary hiring process so that workers can be in and out as needed during a sure-to-be busy time. 

After all, despite in-store Black Friday events being quelled, there will still be plentiful online order fulfillment duties and other eCommerce duties to manage.

While the retail industry will remain in flux as the years go by, one thing will remain the same: the need for top retail talent. Ensure your search for these individuals is successful by partnering with US Tech Solutions for your recruitment needs.