The Automation Apocalypse, Is It Here?

A new report by Cornerstone Capital Group has concluded that the jobs of as many as 47 percent of the 16 million Americans currently working in retail could be made redundant by highly-automated e-commerce and other up and coming innovations within the next ten years. The in-store positions that are most vulnerable to the automation apocalypse are cashiers while sales and freight are slightly less effected. Even ‘personal touch’ roles aren’t safe with the aim to replace all in-store greeters directly with robots or apps. The report also highlighted that while sales roles are just as likely to be filled by women as men, 73 percent of cashiers are women and the cashier position is considered “one of the most easily automatable”.

In an estimated ten years, future retailers will have sensors and intelligent vision to automatically detect what customers have in their carts and then bill them as they walk out the door such as Amazon Go. The report showcased two strategies retailers can take in dealing with the shifting landscape. Lower-end retailers can use technology to increase convenience and volume while high-end retailers should focus on technology that enhances the customer experience. Ultimately, if more retailers focus on using technology to support highly skilled workers and enhance service, it may result in fewer layoffs and potentially higher pay for staff.

Read the full report here.