The concept of grocery shopping has been turned on its head during the past two years. Shoppers have been relegated to the curb, where masked attendants load bags into trunks, and tabloid-laden checkout lines have been replaced by mobile shopping and home delivery, affording American shoppers more time and flexibility for their daily errands. This pandemic-spurred lull in in-store operations has spawned a new era of e-commerce, one that shows promising signs of continued growth.
Coresight Research predicts that online grocery sales will nearly double in 2022, while overall grocery sales are likely to decrease from 4.5% in 2021 to 3.3% in 2022. Despite this expected decline in profit, consumer spending at grocery stores is still above its pre-pandemic levels.
With fewer customers physically entering grocery stores, store managers have begun to re-evaluate the structure of their staff for daily operations, which has led to questions concerning how and who they hire. As shopping shifts toward a digital domain, so have sourcing, screening and extending job offers to grocery store workers.
Fewer in-store shoppers reduce instances of human interaction, which ostensibly means fewer staff members are needed. But stores still need associates to fill in where automation, apps and a mass exit of former workers have created gaps.
Grocery stores are hiring to replace workers who left their posts when the pandemic severely limited in-store shopping. Cashiers and other associates who performed customer-facing duties were suddenly thrust into an unsafe working environment and grew dissatisfied with low pay and poor benefits. Retailers reported a turnover rate of 58% in 2020, up from 40% in 2019, according to "The Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2021" report.
After this worker exodus, grocery stores were spread thin. With fewer hands on deck, they looked to technology to keep things running smoothly. This digital refocus also applied to hiring practices, ushering in the digital transformation of high-volume hiring.
Inside grocery stores, a digital transformation has been underway for years. Self-checkout and ordering kiosks have diverted human responsibilities to other areas of stores like logistics, and operational shifts that have carved out a path for new employment opportunities.
Despite the in-store shopping slowdown, e-commerce — an industry that relies heavily on technology — is trending upward. As such, it behooves grocery store hiring teams to match their hiring methods with the ways that they satisfy customers’ appetites for online shopping.
The digital transformation of high-volume hiring mirrors the changes happening inside brick-and-mortar grocery stores: Formerly hands-on and interactive tasks have been swept aside to make room for automation.
Applying, interviewing and accepting (or extending) job offers are now easier and faster for both the candidate and the employer. In 2021, for example, nearly 70% of job applications were completed and submitted via a mobile device, and for gig-type jobs like delivery drivers, the figure reached 86%.
Most of today’s applicant-tracking systems offer applicants the opportunity to apply for jobs directly from their mobile phones, sometimes entirely through text messages. In the middle of an application, candidates might even be prompted to complete a video interview on the spot, or opt for automated scheduling to select another day and time that works best for a one-to-one video interview.
Tech also means more innovation within the workplace. Grocery store managers may redirect workers whose jobs have become obsolete to more skilled tasks, which can have a direct impact on sourcing talent. Talent acquisition teams may need to revisit their sourcing efforts to reach a more skilled talent pool, amend job descriptions by adding a higher pay range, and list benefits like on-the-job training. These actions will attract applicants who are seeking not just a job, but also a career path.
A new wave of grocery shopping is no longer on the horizon — it’s here. Walk-in/walk-out stores are popping up from high-end brands, while other supermarket giants are experimenting with features like “direct-to-fridge” delivery. Across the entire grocery industry, companies are striving to outpace their competitors and get their goods to consumers faster.
For example, grocery store job openings may soon require a greater knowledge of technology and might advertise paths to advancement that weren’t previously possible.
To lead the race, grocery stores have had to alter operations, which also means adjusting how they hire and who they hire. Applicants are looking for the fast track to job offers, and with the right applicant-tracking system, talent acquisition teams can cater to candidates who have the necessary skills for these new tech-savvy roles.
Although grocery stores may be losing talent in a time of dire need, they now have the chance to attract a workforce that is skilled, agile and ready to grow.
Fountain’s high-volume hiring platform empowers global enterprises to find the right people through smart, fast and seamless recruiting. Automated and customizable processes save time for recruitment teams, while end-to-end integrations facilitate seamless data flow and advanced analytics enable data-driven decisions that scale with hiring needs.