With the coronavirus pandemic still a threat as retailers head into the fall and holiday season, shoppers at Walmart and Target can expect to see a greater emphasis on online and contactless services this year. Both leading retailers will be expanding their work forces significantly for the holidays, with many of those positions going to e-commerce.
To prepare for an expected increase in online shopping this holiday season, Walmart will hire more than 20,000 seasonal associates in its e-commerce fulfillment centers across the country. These seasonal positions follow the company’s hiring of more than 500,000 new associates since March across its stores and supply chain locations to ensure the retailer could provide essential items to customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. With these new hires over the last six months, its new seasonal associates, and ongoing hiring of full-time and part-time positions as needed in its stores the nation’s largest retailer says it will be staffed and ready to serve customers for the holiday season.
“The holidays are always a special time, and this year, we think the season will mean even more to our customers,” said Greg Smith, executive vice president for supply chain for Walmart U.S. “As more of them turn to online shopping, we want to ensure we’re staffed and ready to help deliver that special gift to their loved ones while continuing to fulfill our customer’s everyday needs. We’re also proud to be able to continue to provide employment opportunities across the country when it’s needed most.”
The health and safety of its customers and associates is Walmart’s top priority, the company said. Over the past six months, the retailer has taken many steps to help ensure a safe in-store shopping experience for both its customers and associates, which will continue through the holiday season, including reduced store hours to give associates extra time to clean and sanitize stores and stock shelves; required face coverings for associates and customers; sneeze guards and plastic barriers for safety; and separate entrances and exits, social distancing floor decals and overhead announcements promoting proper hygiene and the need to socially distance.
In addition, Walmart is emphasizing a number of convenient, safe and easy ways for customers to shop this holiday season, including contactless pickup and delivery services; Express Delivery delivered within two hours, pending eligibility and customer location; contactless payment in stores; and the retailer’s new Walmart+ membership for $98 a year for unlimited free delivery from stores, fuel discounts and access to tools such as Scan & Go that let customers scan their items as they shop and pay using Walmart Pay for a touch-free payment experience.
At Minneapolis-based Target, staffing plans include more resources for contactless services and safety, additional opportunities for current team members, extensive local hiring and industry-leading pay and benefits.
According to the company, twice as many store team members will be dedicated to contactless services, including Drive Up and Order Pickup, while distribution centers will hire more seasonal team members than last year to manage inventory being sent to stores. Team members stationed at the front of Target stores will focus on safety and cleaning, greeting and directing guests to help with their shopping.
“The success of our business strategy rests on the strength of our team and their ability to adjust quickly to the needs of our guests and their changing shopping patterns,” said Melissa Kremer, Target’s chief human resources officer. “Throughout the year, the team has successfully balanced strong demand in our stores with surging digital volume. Knowing that the holiday season will be unlike any other, we’re building in even more flexibility to make sure Target remains a safe and convenient place to work and shop, while investing in our team’s industry-leading pay and benefits.”
Target will double the number of store team members devoted to Drive Up and Order Pickup, and train additional team members to help during peak shopping periods. Team members will pack online orders that ship directly to guests’ homes and continue to fulfill more than 90% of Target’s digital orders.
To prepare for the season, Target store and distribution team members have completed more than 400,000 hours of safety training this year, with hundreds of thousands of additional hours anticipated before the end of the year.
For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage.