Technology is in the process of completely transforming all aspects of 4 industries – construction, medicine, retail, and transport – with a significant reduction in the need for human labor. Here is the impact on the Retail Industry:
- Product manufacture (including food preparation) is being automated, using such technologies as robotics, CAD, and additive (3D or 4D) manufacturing. Many products are being customized to specific customer specifications.
- The supply chain that transports products to warehouses and onward to stores or customer locations will be automated by the use of autonomous robots, cars, trucks, trains and ships – with tracking based on paperless blockchains.
- Fully-automated warehouses are already in use, which replace workers with robots and conveyor belts to stock and retrieve products, and to fill orders
- Retail stores are changing their primary functions from the traditional look-touch-buy to look-touch-pickup (soon with the use of augmented reality technology), with ordering and payment via the internet. For groceries, look-touch-buy is being achieved without cashiers or sales staff or couriers. Most products sold on the internet will be delivered directly to customers’ homes by autonomous systems (vehicles or drones or robots).
- Customer support is using AI to handle automatically the majority of queries and concerns, while in-store support (including restaurant wait staff and hosts) will be provided by robots.
The number of jobs in the retailing process is being significantly reduced. There is already limited need for cashiers, sales staff, and warehouse workers. Fast food workers and restaurant wait staff will be replaced by robots. Supply chain workers (such as truck drivers and dispatchers and document handlers) will no longer be needed. This is already starting in a few places, but, as the cost of the new technologies drop (which will happen at an accelerating rate), expect much of this to be standard in 5-10 years (and earlier if the minimum wage keeps increasing).
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4 trends that are changing the way we shop (AI/Retail- 2018-07 – ZDNet)
6 more cashier-free Amazon Go stores could be coming in 2018 (AI/Stores – 2018-02 – TechRepublic)
What it’s like to shop at an Amazon Go store (AI/Automated Store – 2018-01 – ZDNet)
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A Coresight Research report found 5,994 store closings announced in 1Q2019, compared with 5,864 in all of 2018. Some retailers, including Fred’s and Family Dollar, are closing select stores in a bid to stay profitable, while chains like Payless have announced they are shuttering all of their stores.
Walmart unveils an AI-powered store of the future, now open to the public (Retail/Stores - 2019-04 - TechCrunch)
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The beauty AI startup ‘lululab’ unveiled its AI Beauty Store, an unmanned virtual store in Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping mall. The service offered includes self-skin analysis using a single selfie with a multispectral camera, recommended products, and an outcome report.
Fast food drive-thru using AI to take orders (Retail/Fast Food - 2019-02 - Futurism.com)
Colorado-based startup Valyant AI announced the launch of a voice-based AI customer service platform, which is now taking customer orders at the drive-thru at Denver’s Good Times Burgers and Frozen Custard.
Online & brick retail declines as consumerism declines among millennials in Western World (Retail/Dept Stores - 2019-02 - The Conversation)
British retail giants saw Christmas sales lowest since 2008, amidst 93,000 UK retail jobs lost in 2018. Marks and Spencers is closing 100 stores.
Autonomous package delivery to your doorstep (Retail/Courier - 2019-01 - TechCrunch)
Future concept: Autonomous van travels to a neighbourhood and releases robot dogs to deliver packages to doorsteps.