The gig economy may seem like it’s still among the latest financial trends, but in fact, it’s already starting to evolve into its next form: on-demand labor. And that doesn’t stop at ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber, delivery services like Grubhub and Postmates or odd job services like TaskRabbit. On-demand labor could change the entire retail industry as well — and the shift has already begun.
There are several companies working to transform the scheduling experience for retailers employing hourly workers, all the way from low-skilled positions like bussing tables up to high-end specialized retail staff in categories like fashion, beauty and cosmetics.
This Uber-of-X model has potential across every vertical that leverages an hours-based employment model. Healthcare, with its on-call nurses and other on-call health professionals, is ripe for such a solution, likening on-demand healthcare to the old-fashioned house call. She imagines the same principle could be applied to any type of expert, such a butcher, who could go around to different restaurants offering his services on demand — essentially acting as a tech-enabled consultant. Hospitality presents a lot of opportunities, which some platforms have already begun to seize. JibJab, for instance, helps restaurants fill open shifts for bartending and waiting staff roles.
AllWork takes a slightly different approach focusing instead on placing high-end specialized retail staff into the very specific slots where they’re needed, exactly when they are needed.
For example, consider a cosmetics brand that has a presence at multiple department stores, such as Macy’s. Being heard in that environment can be difficult, so brands like to have their own people on site to represent the product and educate customers on a deeper level than the average hourly employee could offer. Because of this specific knowledge base and skill set, filling no-shows and last-minute cancellations can be challenging for brands.
Meanwhile, many employees want to work more and earn more, but there is not always an opportunity for them to do so.
As true as that may be for specialized workers like those at the heart of AllWork’s value proposition, it can be even truer for the average hourly employee stocking the shelves at any chain supermarket, bookstore or apparel outlet. Many such part-time employees would welcome the opportunity to help make ends meet by picking up a few extra shifts, even if those shifts are at a different store location than where they usually work.
Matching those workers with the shifts they want and employers with the staffing they need was not always possible in the past when rigid rosters and paper schedules ruled the industry, but technology is changing that, and the right platform can drive benefits on both sides of the equation.
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