Amazon to Hire 200K More Workers for Busy Holiday Shopping Season

Parcels are processed and prepared for dispatch at Amazon's fulfillment centre on Nov. 15, 2016, in Peterborough, England.(Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Parcels are processed and prepared for dispatch at Amazon's fulfillment centre on Nov. 15, 2016, in Peterborough, England.(Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Amazon plans to hire 200,000 people for the busy holiday shopping season, double the number of workers it hired a year ago.

The hiring spree is a sign of how quickly the online shopping giant is growing. To keep up with online orders, Amazon has been opening more warehouses, package sortation hubs and delivery stations. It’s also working to speed up delivery for its Prime members to one day from two.

Other retailers plan to hire in smaller numbers. Target said it would hire 130,000 this year, up 4% from a year. And Kohl’s planned to hire 90,000, about the same from 2018.

In the last year, Amazon said it has promoted about 19,000 workers who packed and shipped orders to manager or supervisor roles.

This year, holiday stress may take on a whole new meaning for online retailers.

Amazon, Walmart and others have promised to deliver more of their orders within 24 hours of customers clicking on “Buy.”

The coming weeks will be the first test of whether they can make that happen during the busy holiday shopping season, when onslaughts of orders and bad weather can lay waste to even the best delivery plans.

It’s an expensive feat that requires not just additional planes and vehicles, but more workers and reams of data to help retailers prepare and predict what shoppers may buy.

And the stakes to deliver on time are high. A late package can damage a retailer’s reputation, since shoppers tend to blame them, even if the late arrival is the fault of the delivery company.

“The store made the promise,” said Suketu Gandhi, partner in the digital transformation practice at consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Amazon learned that six years ago, when UPS and FedEx were crippled by bad weather and last-minute online shopping, causing millions of packages to be late for Christmas. Since then, the online shopping giant has been building its own delivery network to give it more control over when and how its packages are delivered. It has leased jets, built package-sorting hubs at airports and launched a program that lets contractors start businesses delivering packages in vans.

Others are feeling the pressure to keep up with Amazon. When the company introduced two-day shipping about 14 years ago, shoppers expected the same from other stores. That appears to be happening again.

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