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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A robotic bartender who serves drinks ordered through a phone app (Robotics/Automated Warehouse - 2018-12 - Reuters)
Robots are cooking in fast food restaurants (Robotics/Automated Warehouse - 2018-12 - BBC)
Amazon and Walmart add more robots, but insist they won’t terminate jobs (Robotics/Automated Warehouse - 2018-12 - FastCompany)
Postmates has launched a delivery robot that will bring lunch to your door (Robotics/Automated Warehouse - 2018-12 - MIT Technology Review)
Burger restaurant has fully-automated kitchen (Robotics/Automated Warehouse - 2018-12 - BBC Future)
On-line order fulfillment centre can process 65,000 orders/week (Robotics/Automated Warehouse - 2018-12 - PC Mag)
Amazon is hiring fewer workers this holiday season, a sign that robots are replacing them (Robotics/Automated Warehouse - 2018-11 - Quartz)
Robot is chef at a new burger joint (Robotics/Automated Warehouse - 2018-06 - FastCompany)
A British supermarket is using greater than 1,000 robots to make online grocery shopping faster (Robotics/Automated Warehouse - 2018-05 - The Verge)
Ocado, a British online-only supermarket, has created a warehouse, involving a hive-grid-machine with over one thousand robots, each the size and shape of a washing machine, that lift, move, and sort groceries. The operation will process 3.5 million items or around 65,000 orders every week.