What Amazon’s Whole Foods Experiment Means for Gig Workers Moving Forward

Amazon is taking another digitized approach for grocery shoppers at Whole Foods. The global online retailer recently finished an experiment with gig workers on a new delivery model.

The goal they aim to achieve is to speed up deliveries and phase out long lines in grocery stores for good. 

What was the experiment about?

While Amazon is known as a valuable and illustrious company around the world, it still faces different challenges. 

Reports continue to surface that Amazon has continued to struggle in the delivery niche. For the past 15 years, they've failed to find a sustainable business model to propel them to the top.  

Its direct competitors - such as Walmart, Albertsons, and apps such as UberEats, DoorDash, and GrabHub - continue to see success from their online platforms.

For this reason, Amazon has countered with moves of their own. Their latest plan is to execute a more efficient grocery-delivery model to attract customers to fill online orders.

That's where gig workers enter the picture.

Last February, Amazon informed gig workers who pick up online orders from their store that they could soon be working there full time for their ‘Whole Foods division’. 

What does this mean for gig workers moving forward?

Photo taken from Canva

Upon hearing this development, most gig workers seem uninterested to take part or continue their freelance work with the company. 

While becoming a Whole Foods employee may entitle gig workers to certain benefits, they would have to give up one of the best perks of working as a gig worker: flexibility to control their work schedule. 

In reality, most gig workers also work for other companies - some may even work for Amazon’s competitors as well. 

“This is supposed to be a side gig for a lot of people,” one Whole Foods employee told CNBC. “If there are changes in their level of flexibility, I can see a lot of them leaving to work elsewhere.”

The initial description for the job would entail the in-store grocery shoppers working longer shifts. For starters, they would have to work two weeks scheduled three weeks in advance.

The need for more in-store shoppers is in response to Amazon’s need to fill and deliver orders within an hour or two. 

“The benefit of that full-time employee model is to really have someone on-demand to fill the orders quickly within the store,” said Celia Van Wickel, senior director of digital commerce at Kantar. “This keeps them in Whole Foods for a longer duration to focus solely on Whole Foods activities.”

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