Amazon doubled workforce during pandemic

Also Alibaba and other eCommerce players recruited heavily in ’20 and ’21 – wave of layoffs in ‘22


The past two pandemic years fundamentally transformed our global shopping realities – and mostly for the benefit of online retailers. Many well-established multi-channel players remarkably increased their online shares, for others, the corona pandemic was the last spark they needed to finally take off in the eCommerce business, and again others were glad that they could rely on a rising eCommerce demand in light of their general sales slump. The boom in online demand particularly came like a blessing for those with an eCommerce focus. But the surge in demand of course also brought along challenges. Somebody had to process all those additional orders. Many eCommerce companies reacted with an unprecedented workforce increase:

Amazon doubled workforce during pandemic 1

Amazon is one of the biggest employers globally. The U.S. eCommerce giant had a total global workforce of an incredible 1.6 million in 2021. This corresponds to an increase of 102% since pre-Covid 2019. But Amazon was not the only eCommerce giant which doubled its staff numbers over the course of the pandemic. Some even recruited on a larger scale in relative terms. The Argentinian MercadoLibre tripled its workforce between 2019 and 2021 – from 10,000 to 30,000. Amazon’s Chinese counterpart Alibaba increased the number of staff by 146%, with 2021 being an especially strong recruiting year. But what about the long-term situation? The developments of the current year give hints:

Amazon doubled workforce during pandemic 2

2022 has seen significant layoffs in the eCommerce business so far. Shopify, which had doubled their workforce during the pandemic and interestingly enough also their number of shoppers, dismissed 1,000 employees by the end of July. And this was by far not the biggest wave of layoffs compared to other companies in the eCommerce field. Especially companies in the recently booming new quick-commerce industry seem to make severe cuts on employee numbers: getir and goPuff dismissed 4,480 and 1,500 workers by mid-2022, respectively, as a reaction to heavy losses and fewer investments. But also other competitors in the field laid off employees. Is the big corona boost for the eCommerce industry over? Staff developments at least give the impression.

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September 2022

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