The end is near, what we have always rumored to only be a scare tactic, could it be real? Could the retail race die out completely within the next couple of decades? Sales people standing in the unemployment line all together.
Automated retail intelligence is no longer some fantasy of the future. The technology is mind blowing, but the product is game changing. Behind the scenes robots have already put more than 3,000 warehouse workers out of work this summer, and last month the new robotic sales associates debuted on the sales floor at a Lowe’s in California. Some dooms dayers believe this could lead to putting over 2 billion employees out of jobs within the next three decades as the technology develops to be more and more intelligent. Perhaps this could be true.
Perhaps there could be some sort of balance. I remember when shopping online worried me, when the idea of an online store seemed so much more economical than a storefront. No associates or managers to pay, no rent or utilities, you could ship and order product strictly by demand. Customers would walk into my store and suggest “You know you really should tell your corporate that they really should make an online store so I don’t have to drive all the way out here.” On my particularly sassy days I would educate, “then what would I do for a living?” But here we are years later, online shopping is hurting the mall industry, but it is still far from dead.
I shop in store as opposed to online for three reasons
1. I like to see, hold, really get acquainted with a product before I purchase.
2. I like to support the local economy, keep money local, help our city grow.
3. I love the atmosphere, I love wandering aisles, I love meeting new people, and I love being able to explore new ideas through new product that I am seeing in real life 4D as opposed to my 2D computer screen.
When I was a teenager and automated cashiers were first introduced to me I was in love. I loved being able to ring up my own items and go. Perhaps it’s my age, perhaps it’s my retail experience since, but why do I want to do all the work when someone is there being paid by someone else to ring it up for me? Someone is there to search for the spinach in the POS, or scan the huge dog food bag I managed to barely slide on the bottom of my cart. That person can also talk to me, hold a conversation with me, we discuss my precious daughter, the difference between zucchini and squash, or share fun tales of retail past. Heck as a stay at home mom, my interaction at the Target line is possibly the most social I am some days.
What are your thoughts on these incredibly exciting and terrifying new innovations?
Photo Courtesy Of: D J Shin – My Toy Museum