retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Business Insider has a piece about what might be called the creeping robotization of the fast food business, and the likelihood that this will extend to supermarkets and other retail segments. The trend seemed to take form recently when it was revealed that Walmart has patented a self-driving shopping cart, and while this "may sound like science fiction ... the automation of retail jobs isn't so far off. 

"In late August, Lowe's announced that, starting this fall, 11 locations in the San Francisco Bay Area will feature LoweBots, which are multi-lingual, autonomous customer assistance robots.
In the grocery industry, self-checkout stands have become standard. And the industry is now looking for more ways to use tech to streamline shopping and minimize the need for human employees."

In many ways, the story suggests, much of this is being driven by Amazon, where founder/CEO Jeff Bezos has a famous antipathy toward people in business, often saying that his goal is to automate everything possible and depend on algorithms to drive marketing and merchandising decisions. This can drive cost out of the business, which puts the pressure on other retailers to do the same.

As other companies invest in robotic technology and other forms of automation, "it is inevitable that shopping will involve more and more robots," Business Insider writes. "And, as times goes on, that's likely to mean fewer and fewer human employees."

You can read the entire story here.
KC's View:
Inevitably, this story will generate emails from people who will suggest that it proves, once and for all, that Amazon is evil, and that its growth is promoting trends that will bring about the downfall of America.

To which I can only suggest, somebody has to build and program the robots.

And while I certainly don't think that it is a good thing that people may be losing their jobs to robots, I think it is important to not just embrace progress, but to think about one has to adjust in order to be relevant within a changed society.