The ease of accessibility of eCommerce has been welcome in most industries, but the grocery industry in North America struggled to convince customers of its advantages prior to the coronavirus outbreak. In fact, prior to the outbreak, only 3% or 4% of grocery shopping in the United States was online, according to consulting firm Bain & Company.

As restrictions were put in place and customers became wary of exposure to the illness, online orders jumped to between 10% and 15%. This staggering increase is likely to drop as fears lessen, though Bain & Company expect grocery sales to stabilize at around 5% to 10%.

The amplified demand for online groceries has already changed the employment landscape in the grocery sector as more staff are needed to fulfill orders, among other tasks. Walmart, for example, hired an additional 150,000 employees nationwide to keep up with the demand.

Online orders require increased staff involvement as employees are needed at every step along the way – from receiving the order, to fulfilling it, to delivering it. The labor-intensive task will lead to a need to hire more workers to work in the stores and warehouses rather than face-to-face with consumers.

Online ordering does not only serve customers in its convenience, it is also a useful marketing tool. By having customers input their email to create an online account, companies are then able to send them targeted advertising. This allows for brands to push their content more directly onto consumers who are more likely to purchase it, providing a higher return on investment for the brand.

For its marketing potential to be utilized to its maximum efficiency, companies will need staff with a knowledge of big data as well as an understanding of consumer thinking. Employees in the IT arena will also be needed to create, update and maintain online ordering systems. Graphic designers are needed to ensure that websites and mobile apps look their best for online ordering.

The employment repercussions of online grocery use becoming more common are widespread, effecting both skilled and unskilled labor. Organizations involved with the grocery industry will need to be proactive in thinking about how employment needs will shift as more consumers transition to online ordering.