Industry Insights

Retail in the Gig Economy

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Twenty years ago it wasn’t necessarily called the gig economy but large retailers, suppliers and 3rd-party service providers have all utilized part-time, contracted labor to fulfill short-term jobs (gigs) for years.


Growth in this community of ad hoc workers shows no signs of slowing down. According to a recent study by MBO Partners, “41 million people, representing 31 percent of the private U.S. workforce, were working independently” as of 2017. The group includes everyone from your Uber and Lyft drivers to in-store demonstrators and bike assemblers.

Retail-focused companies have built entire chunks of their business model around the availability of a project-based labor force, and a recent article by the Atlantic explored what a workforce of the future could look like as retailers like Walmart embrace the gig economy and increased automation.

Gig-based projects in retail environments will only grow as retailers and service-providers embrace technology that facilitates the creation of gig marketplaces. As little as 10 years ago, companies manually executed this type of work. Workstreams consisted of phone calls, emails, tracking spreadsheets and photos attached to emails as proof of work.

The speed of modern retail can no longer rely on these manual workstreams. Just-in-time inventories and the ever-shortening cycle of retail promotions require merchandisers to coordinate execution on a national scale and consolidate thousands of data points into actionable intelligence for executive reporting and future planning purposes.

Economic forces have also forced traditional retailers to redefine the role of their existing and future workforces. The Atlantic piece notes the increasingly large footprint of automated systems and self-checkouts in Walmart stores. Walmart and other retailers are looking for ways to increase the efficiency of their existing workforce, while supplementing their efforts with the workforces their 3rd-party partners provide.

Gig workers already hold the key to much of this work in their hands. They can receive work and report back on its execution with the same smartphone they use to watch Netflix, browse Facebook, and video chat with their kids.

At Movista, we understood early on exactly which tools merchandisers needed to enable efficient response to the demands of today’s retail environment and created a mobile-first solution to help deliver that response. Based on our staff’s 100+ years of collective retail experience, we create the technology that Gig gurus will use as they build the retail environment of the future.


Tags: management, retail, staffing, workforce managemen

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