Will robots replace retail workers? Not likely although you wouldn’t know it from a recent series of stores and studies.
A new report by Cornerstone Capital Group claims that more than 6 million jobs are “likely will be automated out of existence in the coming years, leaving a large portion of the retail workforce at risk of becoming ‘stranded workers.”
It’s tempting to call the report much ado about nothing, but that would mean ignoring some very real trends around even a single technology, namely artificial intelligence (AI).
Robotic manufacturing has accelerated close to 60%, according to a presentation by Alex Dayon, president can chief product officer at Salesforce during a recent user conference in Las Vegas. The three-day event was something of an AI bootcamp as Salesforce walked customers and attending media through its current and future applications.
Salesforce offers a suite of e-commerce tools for brands and introduced some new AI features including one that promises to deliver more accurate or useful products during searches called “predictive sort.”
Salesforce and other vendors that are using AI and machine learning to better automate retail through mobile payments, more personalized marketing and better search software. And while these are helpful tools for online retailers, they aren’t doing much to improve the in-store experience, which is essential for brick and mortar retailers.
And neither will the types of automation discussed in the report, especially self checkout.
Even after many years, self-checkout still has problems. Shoppers largely shun it and stores continue to face issues of theft and customer dissatisfaction.