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Breaking down Amazon’s pandemic hiring spree.
Morning Brew September 20, 2021

Retail Brew


Hello there. It’s that special time of year when the air is crisp, the leaves are golden, and the pumpkin spice lattes are flowing. Fall is hands down in the top two seasons, and it’s not No. 2!  

In honor of the back-to-school, sweater-weather glory, we’re hosting a giveaway. This week, anyone who refers five (or more) retail pros to this here newsletter will win a custom Retail Brew coffee mug.

Want in? Start sharing today

In today’s edition: 

  • Amazon’s pandemic hiring spree
  • Locus Robotics's acquisition
  • Our cannabis hits (so far)

—Jeena Sharma, Julia Gray, Glenda Toma


Just hired

amazon boxes


Retailer after retailer has gone on a hiring spree this year. But, is it just us, or does it feel like Amazon makes a new push every other week? 

Last Tuesday, the e-comm giant said it will add 125,000 warehouse and transportation workers, including delivery, across the US (at an average starting wage of $18/per hour). That’s in addition to hiring 40,000+ new corporate roles. 

That was just this month. (And apparently more than 1 million people applied for its career-day event.)

A look back: The pandemic-led surge in online shopping set Amazon on an accelerated hiring spree, and starting in July 2020, the company was bringing on about 2,800 employees a day, mostly in its warehouses. 

  • By October 2020, Amazon’s workforce topped 1 million worldwide; ~500,000 new jobs were added last year alone. 
  • 2021 began with even fiercer hiring goals, and the company in April said it would invest $1 billion to boost wages by up to $3/hour for 500,000+ of its employees. (Amazon’s minimum wage has been $15/hour for all US workers since 2018.)
  • In the second quarter of 2021, Amazon said it employed an additional 64,000 people.
  • With almost 1 million workers in the US, Amazon is the second-largest employer in the country behind Walmart, which employs 1.6 million people. 
  • One in every 169 American workers now works at Amazon

Zoom out: The fight for labor remains tight—especially ahead of the holiday shopping season—with more job openings than unemployed persons and workers less willing to settle for low-paid jobs with limited benefits. 

While Amazon recently announced it would cover tuition costs for its 750,000 hourly employees (education benefits appear to be retail’s new incentive), the New York Times reported in June that the e-comm company is struggling with high turnover as it—and its workers—try to keep up with supercharged growth.—JS



Automate me

Locus Robotics acquires Waypoint Robotics

Locus Robotics

The robot takeover is upon us. Fresh off another $50 million funding round, Locus Robotics, a unicorn company that makes autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for fulfillment warehouses, is acquiring Waypoint Robotics, another industry leader in AMRs. 

  • The deal will strengthen Locus’s e-comm, case-picking, and pallet-picking operations and tools. (Terms were not disclosed.) 

Bot boom: The future of robotic automation will be “driven by the explosion of online ordering and supply-chain challenges and exacerbated by a significant—and growing—labor shortage,” Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus, told Retail Brew. 

Locus’s Waypoint acquisition will help the company “respond nimbly to the volume spikes and growth currently becoming the norm,” Faulk added. And in a statement about the deal, Faulk said that it will “accelerate our ability to meet these global needs in just months rather than years.” 

  • Waypoint could help Locus boost productivity by 2x to 3x, Faulk claimed.
  • Locus also recently signed a deal with DHL to digitize its supply chain by employing 2,000 bots in the logistics company’s 1,400+ global warehouses and offices.  

Flashback: When we spoke to Brittain Ladd, chief supply chain and marketing officer for tech solutions provider KPI, about the rapid grocery delivery boom, he emphasized the need for automated fulfillment centers. “[These companies] will fail if [they] continue down the path of using small manually operated centers,” he told us. “If you invest in automation, you are guaranteed to have a much better opportunity in not only surviving, but thriving.”—JG



A Shopping Experience That Delivers


You’ve done a lot to make a great impression with your customers. You marketed your product effectively, answered questions even tucked a personalized thank-you card in the box before shipping.

But, that’s not where the shopping experience ends. After you ship, bring that positive experience home with Route. It’s the free post-purchase solution that delivers:

  • Visual Tracking™: A seamless and engaging on-brand tracking experience that reduces “Where’s my order?” inquiries
  • Protection: Automated customer support that’s powered by machine learning and an insurance policy that backs your packages
  • Engagement: Keep your brand top-of-mind with custom profiles, promotional content, and embedded shopping links

First impressions are important, but a customer’s final impression? It’s what they remember most.

Get a demo of Route today.


Hit it

cannabis leaves


You might have picked up on a trend this month: We’re digging into all things cannabis—from CBD bevs to how dispensaries open up shop—and so are our friends at Emerging Tech Brew and Marketing Brew. We pulled together a wrap-up of their coverage so far so you don’t miss a single hit, standout quotes included:

Don’t worry, there’s more to come.—GT



  • DoorDash is adding alcohol delivery to 20 states, plus Washington, D.C., Australia, and Canada.
  • Pineider, the writing and leather-goods brand, opened its first US location at Rockefeller Center. 
  • CVS wants to hire 25,000 employees ahead of flu season. 
  • Walgreens will pay out one-time bonuses of $1,250 and $1,000, respectively, to its full-time and part-time pharmacists.



The secret’s out. Well, just nearly. Route is putting the finishing touches on a brand-spankin’-new, fresh-out-of-the-box product—as we speak. Check back here on Wednesday, 9/22, for all the deets. In the meantime, get a feel for all of their great features—like package tracking, protection, and customer engagement—when you book a demo with Route here.


Post it: Inside the force that is Diet Prada—amid a nearly $700 million lawsuit. (Vanity Fair)

Poured over: The counterfeit wine market is thriving and high-end wineries are deploying ultra-violet ink and holograms to fight it. (Insider)

Sign of the times: Does the world need Taco Bell’s new subscription service? (The Atlantic


Retail Brew Mug Giveaway

There’s nothing quite like drinking a hot brew from a custom ’Brew mug while reading your afternoon Retail Brew. Trust us.

Here’s the deal:

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At the mall, it’s where band tees are the only tees. In Retail Brew, it’s where we invite readers to weigh in on a trending retail topic.

Ikea hosted its first-ever virtual 24-hour “festival” last week, which featured digital concerts and even a museum. While that event was focused on inspiring people to shop, the livestream bug is spreading. Next month, Macy’s, Guess, and other brands will participate in Coresight’s holiday livestream event. And livestream shopping platform Whatnot recently closed on a $150 million Series C and became a unicorn.  

Our question is: Are these virtual shopping events finally poised to pick up in the US? Or are they just hype? Cast your vote here.

And, and, and: Last week, after Facebook debuted its first line of smart glasses, we asked if consumers are ready for wearable tech: 30.6% of you said, “Bring it on, baby!” But an overwhelming 69.4% responded, “It’s a no from me.”


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Written by Glenda Toma, Julia Gray, and Jeena Sharma

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