By Lucy Marino, Executive Director, Marketing and Creative, Robert Half For retail and e-commerce companies, the holiday season is more than a time for flashy product launches and attention-grabbing discounts. It’s an operational marathon that can significantly impact your bottom line. The stakes are higher than ever, with e-commerce projected to grow into a $5.4 trillion market by 2026, according to Morgan Stanley. Holiday shopping represents a significant portion of that.
Picture this: It’s early November. You’ve just launched an eye-catching range of new products, perfectly timed for Black Friday and the holiday shopping spree. Everything points to this being a record-breaking season. However, a less rosy reality emerges as you check in on your departments. Your customer support unit is swamped with problems ranging from product specifications to delivery deadlines. Meanwhile, your website traffic is surging as eager shoppers scramble for deals. Your teams are stretched thin — and some of your hardworking staff could be headed toward burnout. Overtaxing your core team means risking both employee well-being and your company’s reputation, both internally and externally. But bringing in specialized reinforcements for this intense time can be a game-changer. These aren’t just extra hands. They’re experts in their respective fields who can elevate every aspect of your peak-season operations. Key people who can make a tangible difference include: Designers (graphic, packaging, visual, etc.). These creatives are essential for making your products visually irresistible, whether through engaging social media graphics, compelling packaging or eye-catching marketing campaigns. Copywriters. There’s no point to great design if the message doesn’t resonate. Copywriters can craft the right wording and tone for everything from holiday ads to product descriptions that help your brand stand out. Web designers and front-end developers. These professionals help ensure your website isn’t just functional, but also visually appealing and user-friendly. A clunky website can be a major turn-off for online shoppers. Digital marketing specialists. Brick-and-mortar retail remains important, but the digital realm is where the modern holiday battle is won or lost. You’ll need a team that knows how to run effective online campaigns, manage SEO and get the most out of your marketing and advertising dollars. Email marketing specialists. During the holidays, everyone’s inbox is flooded with promotional emails. Your team should know how to break through the clutter and get your message in front of the right eyes at the right time. Of course, the holiday whirlwind leaves little time for a lengthy recruitment process to assemble all this contract talent. And even if you did, the demand for top-notch talent is ferociously high. This is why setting a scalable staffing strategy early on can save the day.
The power of scalable staffing is its ability to scale your workforce precisely when you need it most. This is especially critical for the retail and e-commerce sectors, which face intense demand during the holiday season. Rather than maintaining a large, year-round staff, you keep a core team of permanent employees and bring in highly experienced contract talent for peak periods. This approach is also a financially savvy way to manage long-term labor costs. Given the seasonal pressures, it’s no surprise that 60% of marketing and creative managers plan to employ seasonal contract workers for the year-end rush, according to recent Robert Half research. So how can you get the most out of seasonal and scalable staffing? 1. Don’t skimp on onboarding. Tailoring your onboarding process helps ensure new hires can contribute right from the start. This could mean giving graphic designers a rundown on brand guidelines and current marketing themes so they can immediately start creating eye-catching visuals. Web designers and front-end developers should be familiarized with the existing website architecture and ongoing optimization projects. Digital marketing specialists may need an overview of current and planned campaigns, keywords to focus on and the platforms you’re using. 2. Clearly outline roles and responsibilities. From day one, let them know who to go to for different types of questions that may come up. Uncertainty can be a productivity killer. 3. Consider top performers for permanent roles. Seasonal employees often make great candidates for permanent placement. After all, they’ve been steeped in your brand’s organizational culture and workflows. Plus, they’ve proven their worth during the retail calendar’s most stressful and demanding period. 4. Benchmark your employees’ salaries. You may avoid turnover among your core team members by continuously checking if their compensation is competitive. Knowledge is power, and using resources like the Salary Guide From Robert Half can give you a retention edge, providing up-to-date market rates for various marketing and creative positions. 5. Partner with talent-experienced pros. Teaming up with a specialized talent solutions firm can give you a significant hiring advantage, especially when managing seasonal demands. Working with a recruiting team can give you access to turnkey talent, advanced skills training and remote-ready teams. This last is key — making sure your talent partner has a deep bench of candidates who know the ins and outs of remote teamwork. Partnering with a specialized talent firm leaves you free to concentrate on your ultimate goal: delivering an outstanding customer experience. So, as you plan for the season of high-stakes service, or find you need skilled marketing professionals in a pinch, consider scalable staffing — not as an option, but as an essential strategy for your business success.