Automation vs Customer Relationships
We are seeing many retailers pursuing 'Amazon Go' like shopping technology that would eliminate traditional cashiers. The computer vision tech powering up these competitors to Amazon is still early-on but moving fast as young companies seek to scale the tech for traditional supermarkets. As I discussed in my recent book, Retail in the Age of 'I', the industry is rapidly approaching a crossroads. One path leading to this kind of automated, yet barren and sterile, shopping experience offered by automation. The other path puts technology in service to retailers, enabling them to recreate at scale the personalized relationships in the old corner store while increasing service levels as certain functions are automated. Tech is moving increasingly fast and retailers must grapple with the implications of new capabilities, both the good and the not so good. Those retailers that have a clear vision of who they are can use new tech to update and solidify their market position.