The coronavirus pandemic is proving that even Amazon isn’t bulletproof.
On Monday, the e-commerce juggernaut announced plans to hire 100,000 full- and part-time employees for jobs buoying the company’s sprawling delivery network and fulfillment centers.
Amazon couched the news in terms of creating opportunities for workers reeling from a sudden reversal of fortunes in hard-hit sectors like hospitality, travel and the restaurant business, whose jobs have been “lost or furloughed as part of this crisis” amid sweeping restrictions designed to increase social distancing.
Drastic cutbacks in activity nationwide are engineered to curtail the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic that has sparked 153,517 confirmed cases and 5,735 deaths, per the World Health Organization’s March 15 situation brief. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the U.S. has recorded 3,487 confirmed and presumptive cases and 68 deaths through Monday.
“We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back,” Amazon wrote in a blog post.
Largesse isn’t Amazon’s sole motivator.
In recent days, as the prognosis for a U.S. coronavirus outbreak has looked increasingly grim, shoppers have turned to their smartphone apps to stockpile pandemic supplies like toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and pantry staples—stripping inventories bare and spurring unusual delays for a company that has built its reputation on customer-centricity and doorstep delivery in as little as one hour.
Customers trying to place orders through the Prime Now app have stocked their virtual carts, only to encounter a message at checkout advising them that “no delivery windows are available.” And even the main Amazon app is showing product pages emblazoned with the Prime-eligible shipping logo—but displaying delivery dates five days out versus the standard two.
If Amazon wants to remain the king of U.S. e-commerce, it has every incentive to act quickly and augment its frontline workforce to address these unprecedented times satisfy its valuable, 100-million strong Prime member bases. A forecast calculated by eMarketer shows that Amazon’s sales in American digital commerce are set to reach $260.86 billion this year, an increase of 17.2 percent and a growth rate 4 percent higher above the rest of the domestic e-commerce market.
Amazon’s not just looking for hire hundreds of thousands of new faces—it’s throwing some additional pay to workers who’ve been keeping operations afloat under a staggering surge in demand.
“We want to recognize our employees who are playing an essential role for people at a time when many of the services that might normally be there to support them are closed,” the company said.
Hourly wage earners will receive an extra $2, £2 or roughly €2 per hour through April, depending on whether they’re in the U.S., the U.K. or countries in the European Union. Rates already stand at $15 or higher, Amazon noted.
Like most other major companies, Amazon has instructed employees to work from home if possible, and is providing up to two weeks of pay for staff who test positive for coronavirus or are placed into quarantine.