Automation is coming in every direction it seems, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that jobs that were once deemed as the perfect starting places for teenagers or as a fallback for
working-class adults might not be around in the near future as far as the retail industry is concerned.
According to Forbes, cashiers at Macy’s and Sam’s club might be on the chopping block sooner than later as their jobs might be automated away in exchange for self-checkout lines. While this might not be much as a surprise for regular retail shoppers, the biggest change will come in the form of faster checkout lines thanks to the concept of cashless stores. Amazon’s Go store are the leader in this revolutionary consumer concept, with reporter Walter Loeb stating “These stores require no cash or credit cards. All one needs is an app and an Amazon account. Maybe it was incentivized by the self-checkouts we find in many supermarkets today. They have trained customers to help themselves and respond to the prompts by the check-out device. Now, Amazon has taken the idea a step further, and that’s generating lots of attention.”
This is an interesting time for retail businesses since this opportunity consists of a clash between automation and the desire amongst larger businesses to turn into cashless enterprises.
While workers seem to be opposing the threat to their jobs, especially as labor unions organize attempts to lobby lawmakers for a $15 minimum wage, consumers don’t seem to care as long as the convenience of the checkout process is keeping them happy. Loeb points to another report where “Lauren Zumbach of the Chicago Tribune just reported that the regional, privately owned supercenter chain Meijer (of Grand Rapids, Michigan) has made it possible in its greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana stores to scan an item with a smartphone app as you take an item off the shelf and keep a running tab. At the end of the shopping spree, you just stop at a checkout counter, hold up the phone to a self-checkout register, and then be on your way.”
So in the age of automation, who will win? Upset workers or consumers who keep the businesses alive? It seems technology is on the winning end, and consumers are perfectly ok with that. Good or bad, this seems to be the beginning of larger changes to retail businesses around the country, and the globe.
Source: Forbes, Chicago Tribune