eCommerce and the Challenges of Contingent Workforce

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Ever since the rise of the internet and digital technology e-commerce sector was on the constant increase threatening to become the purchase option of choice for most buyers across the globe; last year’s outbreak of COVID-19 only sped up this ongoing transition.

In the year of avoiding contacts, even the retail stores that haven’t had a stake in the eCommerce game were forced to shift their focus online.

The sudden surges of e-commerce sectors we have seen last year created short-term demands for a qualified workforce. This gave exposure to another trend that gained quite a lot of momentum over the last couple of years – contingent workforce.

How these two trends get along – what are the benefits, and what are the challenges. Let’s try to find out.

What is a contingent workforce?

To explore these topics, we will first need to break down the contingent workforce idea quickly. In the simplest of terms, a contingent workforce describes a labor pool that consists of freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, and similar professionals who a company hires on an on-demand basis.

These contracts usually cover the length of one specific project and are renewed only if the situation entails. In most cases, the labor is provided by professional third-party scouting and hiring agencies.

Although it gained a lot of traction in the climate of the uncertain pandemic economy, the contingent workforce has become a global phenomenon many years prior. If we take Australia as an example of a developed country, we can see that this so-called “gig economy” shows that as much as 7% of all local workers have participated in a digital gig during last year.

The benefits of the contingent workforce for the eCommerce sector

Keeping in mind the recent growth of the eCommerce sectors and on and off measures that disrupted the economy, it’s not hard to see why these sectors’ heavier reliance on gig labor.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, numerous retail companies selling online had minimal experience in the eCommerce sector. Hiring an experienced contingent workforce allowed them to scale up, down easily, and sideways without developing these departments in-house. If we once again go Down Under for an example, we can see that most professional contractor workforce solutions in Australia come from reliable third-party agencies that ensure the quality of the labor and create new employment positions in the HR sector.

Some of the challenges you will most likely face.

So the benefits of this concept are more than evident in this volatile financial environment. But, don’t expect that the integration of gig workers will go on without any challenges. Here, were going to cover some of the common gig economy obstacles you will need to take into account to get your eCommerce game going in the smoothest possible manner.

  • Local laws and regulations – ECommerce is a global game, and the contingent workforce you will hire may operate under different local or state laws. Therefore, you need to take these legal acts into account to ensure all parties are duly satisfied.
  • Organizations need to take full responsibility for the contingent workforce. Since they are hired only for a limited time, the companies employing these professionals rarely put enough effort into the onboarding process or use lackluster tools to measure their work. This often results in compromised overall results. To overcome this obstacle, the companies need to treat the contingence workforce just as regular, full-time workers.
  • Identifying the areas where improvements can be made – The companies trying to kick-start their e-commerce sector often fail to realize what areas need the improvement necessary for the proper development. Ecommerce consists of various departments like oversight of costs, performance management, quality of supply, and cybersecurity. Failing to realize which of these activities need improvement will undermine your efforts.
  • Freelance gig workers want to feel like a part of the team – All of the above-mentioned problems are seen from the employer’s perspective. But, the gig workers also face a lot of challenges when joining the already coordinated work collectives. To get the best results, the hiring companies need to put a lot of effort into motivating these employees. One way to do so may be to align the incentives and bonuses of gig workers with full-time employees.

We hope these few considerations gave you some general insight into the relationship between the current growing e-commerce sector and the expansion of the contingent workforce. These trends were in development for many years until now, but numerous companies were forced to adopt them only with the outbreak of COVID-19 fully. This haste leaves some kinks to be worked out before the optimal results can be achieved. Now you know where to start your efforts.

eCommerce and the Challenges of Contingent Workforce

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