E‑Commerce and the Challenges of Contingent Workforce

By Guest Author | ecommerce workforce | April 30, 2021

Ever since the rise of the internet and digital technology e-commerce sector was on the constant increase threatening to become the purchase option of choice for the majority of buyers across the globe. Last year’s outbreak of COVID-19 only sped up this ongoing transition.


In the year of avoiding contacts, even the retail stores that haven’t had a stake in the eCommerce game were forced to shift their focus online.

The sudden surges of e-commerce sectors we have seen last year created short-term demands for a qualified workforce. This gave exposure to another trend that gained quite a lot of momentum over the last couple of years – contingent workforce.

How these two trends get along – what are the benefits, and what are the challenges. Let’s try to find out.

What is a contingent workforce?

To explore these topics, we will first need to quickly break down the idea of the contingent workforce. In the simplest of terms, a contingent workforce describes a labor pool that consists of freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, and similar professionals who are hired by a company on an on-demand basis.

These contracts usually cover the length of one specific project and are renewed only if the situation entails. In most cases, the labor is provided by professional third-party scouting and hiring agencies.

Although it gained a lot of traction in the climate of the uncertain pandemic economy, the contingent workforce has become a global phenomenon many years prior. If we take Australia as an example of a developed country, we can see that this so-called “gig economy” we can see that as much as 7% of all local workers have participated in a digital gig during last year.

The benefits of the contingent workforce for the eCommerce sector

Keeping in mind the recent growth of the eCommerce sectors as well as on and off measures that disrupted the economy, it’s not that hard to see why this sectors’ heavier reliance on gig labor.

For a start, before the coronavirus pandemic, numerous retail companies that started selling online had very little experience in the eCommerce sector. Hiring an experienced contingent workforce allowed them to easily scale up, down, and sideways without having to develop these departments in-house. If we once again go Down Under for an example, we can see that the majority of professional contractor workforce solutions in Australia come from reliable third-party agencies that ensure the quality of the labor and create new employment positions in the HR sector.

Some of the challenges you will most likely face

So the benefits of this concept are more than evident in this volatile financial environment. But, don’t expect that the integration of gig workers will go on without any challenges. Here, were going to cover some of the common gig economy obstacles you will need to take into account to get your eCommerce game going in the smoothest possible manner.

Local laws and regulations – ECommerce is a global game, and the contingent workforce you will hire may operate under different local or state laws. You need to take these legal acts into account to make sure all parties are duly satisfied.

Organizations need to take full responsibility for the contingent workforce – Since they are hired only for a limited period of time, the companies employing these professionals rarely put enough effort into the onboarding process or use lackluster tools for measuring their work. This often results in compromised overall results. To overcome this obstacle, the companies need to treat the contingence workforce just as regular, full-time workers.

Identifying the areas where improvements can be made – The companies that are trying to kick-start their e-commerce sector often fail to realize what areas need the improvement necessary for the proper development. Ecommerce consists of various departments like oversight of costs, performance management, quality of supply, and cybersecurity. Failing to realize which of these activities need improvement will undermine your efforts.

Freelance gig workers want to feel like a part of the team – All of the above-mentioned problems are seen from the perspective of the employer. But, the gig workers also face a lot of challenges when joining the already coordinated work collectives. To get the best results, the hiring companies need to put a lot of effort into motivating these employees. One of the ways for doing so may be found in aligning the incentives and bonuses of gig workers with full-time employees.

We hope these few considerations gave you some general insight into the relationship between the current growing e-commerce sector and the expansion of the contingent workforce. Both these trends were in development for many years up until now, but numerous companies were forced to fully adopt them only with the outbreak of COVID-19. This haste leaves some kinks to be worked out before the optimal results can be achieved. Now you know where to start your efforts.