The number of Costco eCommerce and retail IT open job postings reached an all time high of 50 in September. A significant surge from the 20 postings it had in July, and 40 in August.

Prior to July, Costco only had a dozen eCommerce positions open in any given month. Half to staff its online pharmacy and half to support its online store. This left little room to innovate online. That’s in the past.

From software developers to business analysts, from SEO specialists to automation analysts, most of Costco’s new eCommerce postings focus on improving the online store. The fact these postings are available to external candidates is also extraordinary. Costco historically “promotes from within” and fills office roles with store employees. It’s clear they’re struggling to fill all eCommerce vacancies from within.

[Recruiting insights gathered by the Battle of Giants plays a key role in identifying gaps between a company’s existing capabilities and innovation plans.]

This gap in eCommerce talent has already impacted results. Costco’s September eCommerce sales were up +18% from last year, lagging behind Walmart at 37% and Target at 32%. Both Walmart and Target have more than triple the number of eCommerce postings Costco has this September. [UPDATE 2019-12-01: Costco’s lagging investment in eCommerce technology may also have contributed to its system outage on Black Friday, leading to a potential $11M loss.]

Source: Battle of Giants

The fact Costco is playing catch up online is due to its legacy retail culture. Buy things, sell things. Mike Parrott, Costco’s senior VP of eCommerce, spent 17 years at Costco as head of hardline merchandising. He is no Marc Lore.

Costco’s online strategy is purely about selling unique products at great value, just like its stores. Not about innovating on web experience, or offering convenient fulfillment options. Costco has in fact relied on Instacart for grocery delivery since 2017. Walmart and Target both deliver groceries themselves.

There is however one product category in which Costco has leadership online: Pharma. Costco has had a mail-order pharmacy in Corona, CA and Jeffersonville, IN, years before Amazon acquired Pillpack. To maintain leadership, Costco announced it will be trialing 1-hour prescription deliveries. It can’t afford to lose any boomer business to rivals.

About the Data: The Battle of Giants uncovers companies’ growth intentions by using machine learning to transform recruiting data into strategic insights. It’s the difference between knowing a company is hiring 10% more software developers vs. investing 10% more in last-mile delivery. Data may not be all-emcompassing (we only access public recruiting websites), but complement press releases and news articles for a more comprehensive view of a company’s competitive advantage.