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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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)
Meals on robot wheels: Pizzamaker plans driverless deliveries (Drone/Courier – 2017-04 – ZDNet)
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11 jobs teens are about to lose to robots (Robotics - 2018-05 - ZDNet)
Target uses AR for makeup shopping on-line and in stores (AI - Augmented Reality/Cosmetics - 2018-05 - TechRepublic)
Amazon to bring automated stores to Chicago, San Francisco as AI replaces human cashiers (AI - 2018-05 - TechRepublic)
A British supermarket is using >1,000 robots to make online grocery shopping faster (Robotics/Automated Warehouse - 2018-05 - The Verge)
Farmer’s Fridge operates >100 unmanned fresh food vending units in Chicago and Milwaukee (AI/Food - 2018-04 - FoodManagement)
Walmart's automated pickup stations highlight future of digital transformation in retail (AI/Walmart - 2018-04 - TechRepublic)
Walmart files patent applications for drone shopping assistants and smart shopping carts (AI/Walmart - 2018-03 - The Verge)
Robot helps wait staff by bringing food to the tables (Robotics/restaurants - 2018-03 - FastCompany)
Miso Robotics gets VC funding for its burger-flipping robot (Robotics/Food Service - 2018-02 - ZDNet)
Robot fired from Scottish grocery store for poor performance (Robotics - 2018-01 - TechRepublic)
Walmart testing cashierless stores and home delivery (AI/Walmart - 2017-12 - TechRepublic)
Amazon's AR shopping feature previews products in your home (Augmented Reality/Amazon - 2017-11 - Engadget)
The current state of 3D-printing food (Additive Manu/Food Cooking - 2017-11 - TechRepublic)
Amazon takes next step in controlling and automating its delivery service (AI/Amazon - 2017-10 - Bloomberg)
Examples of automated store models, including 40 stores operated by 4 people (AI/Automated Stores - 2017-10 - Disrupters)
1. Mobile, automatic grocery.stores in Shanghai, using self-driving electric vehicles that come to you, mobile payments, and wireless tagging of stock.
2. BingoBox has over 150 static automatic shops operating in China, offering 10 sq.m. stocked with a wide range of items, and a video-linked assistant. It only takes 4 staff to run 40 stores.
3. Alibaba is testing a pop-up café with no cashiers, using facial recognition on entry, custom food selection, and mobile phone payment.
4. Amazon is using their own staff to test a food store with no staff and no checkout. Customers scan their mobiles on their arrival, select products, and leave paying through their Amazon account.
5. Alibaba is pioneering a retail ecosystem that provides a bricks-and-mortar store catering to both online and offline shopping. Groceries – or a meal – can be ordered online to be picked up or delivered. 13 cashless supermarkets are already operating, mostly in Shanghai.