Labour in Online Retail

In online retail, digitalization and platformization is significantly changing labour relations and working conditions as well as the workers’ experience of their work and workers’ resistance. In delivery, gig work—with its insecure employment conditions—is hollowing out existing working standards and is challenging workers and their unions. Moreover, digitalization and platformization are restructuring the entire retail value chain, including work in the warehouses of online retail and in the still-existing brick-and-mortar shops. New fields of work are developing in IT, management and administration. The change of labour in online retail affects professionals, skilled labour and less skilled workers in all fields of the retail value chain.

Digitalization and platformization is not just a new technology changing work and labour. Instead, it is shaped by different business models. Firms of different sizes take part in the transformation (start-ups and big game changers such as Amazon and Alibaba). Lead firms are located in different countries. Sometimes, they try to transfer their notions of labour control to other countries, thereby generating resistance. These factors all differ between urban areas, hinterlands and peripheral areas.

Possible topics in this session: