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Supply Chain News: Shippers Harnessing New Age Technology in Bid to Recruit New Warehouse Workers


Medical Waste Handler Stericycle Draws Geo-Fence around Another Shipper's Parking Lot to Send Targeted Cell Phone Ads

July 9, 2019
SCDigest Editorial Staff

US distribution jobs continue rapidly expand, a function of a strong economy and the impact of ecommerce and frankly Amazon, which continues to throw up fulfillment centers that employ thousands of workers on a regular basis.

The overall jobless rate in the US is just 3.6%, meaning just about everyone who wants a job has one. But somehow shippers have been able to keep expanding the labor pool.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

What's next, some artificial intelligence thrown into the mix?

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The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that right now there are 1.04 million warehouse workers, up from 991,000 a year ago, an increase of 5.3 percent in a market in which it is increasingly tough to land warehouse and distribution center employees, especially in metro regions known as logistics hubs, from Atlanta to the Inland Empire area of California.

Warehouse jobs have more than doubled in less than a decade, and really started taking off in 2014, as shown in the graphic below.

Recruiting and keeping warehouse workers is a very challenging task indeed.

But some DC operators are getting creative, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports, employing GPS-based "geo-fencing" technology in their effort to find new order pickers and trailer loaders.

With geo-fencing, companies can create a virtual perimeter and sends targeted ads and text message – at a cost of course - to location-enabled smart phones in the areas they have defined with the GPS.

Major 3PL Geodis SA told the Journal it is using geo-fencing for digital recruitment campaigns in Atlanta, Dallas, central Pennsylvania, Indianapolis. and Nashville, looking for potential workers who live within 20 to 50 miles of its facilities. The company also uses geo-fencing-based ads on Facebook in those markets.

Number of US Warehouse Jobs (In Thousands)


Source: BLS


"During some of these targeted campaigns for particular warehouses, we've had people walk across the street from one of our competitors to apply for a job on their lunch break," said Randy Tucker, CEO for the Americas at Geodis.

More traditional approaches such as radio ads and web-based job boards are still in the recruitment arsenal too, of course. But some shippers think using new age media will be more attractive to younger workers. And since most candidates are likely to already be employed, they may not look at job boards unless they are very unhappy.

(See More Below)




But if a pushed cell phone add or text message offers 50 cents more per hour that might be enough to trigger a worker to submit an application.

Some are taking the digital thing even farther. For example, a medical-waste management company called Stericycle is working with temporary employee form ManpowerGroup to job opening notices on map application Waze that are only displayed when a person drives past one of the company's warehouses.

Stericycle in some cases has gone so far as to generate a geo-fence for pushing job ads around the parking lot at another shipper's warehouse.

Stericycle tells the Journal that 50% of its job applicants now come from digital ad campaigns.

Another 3PL, Kenco Group, does its digital recruitment targeting employees for which the drive to one of its facilities will be fast and short against the traffic bottlenecks that workers may be facing with their current jobs.

Another 3PL, fulfillment-focused Radial, targets ads for seasonal jobs at its facilities to zip codes that it believes have a high percentage of workers that do not want full-time employment.

What's next, some artificial intelligence thrown into the mix?

One thing seems clear: the robots may be coming for distribution center jobs one of these days, but not any time soon.

What do you think of these new age recruitment techniques? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.




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