A world without work is coming.
Retail giant Amazon announced a new branch of stores last week, Amazon Go. It has been described as a “revolution” and “life-changing.” What makes it different from other stores is that there are no registers and no staff. In fact, there is no human interaction at all! Instead, shoppers scan into the store with their free Amazon Go app, shop as normal, and leave the store with the items billed to their personal Amazon account.
Take a look here:
So how does it work?
The store uses Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology which consists of computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning, similar to that used in self-driving cars. They began testing the concept four years ago to “push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go.”
For the shopper it’s pretty simple, you install the app on your phone, enter your details and scan your personal barcode on a tube-like sensor when you enter the store. Amazon’s use of artificial intelligence, computer vision which tracks you around the store and data pulled from multiple sensors, all work together to monitor your shopping behaviour and automatically update your virtual cart. Then, to complete your shopping experience, you just walk out the door. Yes, that’s it. No human interaction. Nothing.
What does this mean for jobs?
“I love to queue” – said no one ever.
For shoppers this new store concept is obviously a huge deal and the advanced technology could revolutionise their shopping experience. What’s not to love?
But, what does this mean for the over 50 million people working in retail all over the world? It has been criticised by the New York Post as “the end of jobs” and “the next major job killer”. It’s easy to see why – the company are planning on opening another 2000 stores, which could potentially make 75% of typical grocery-store staff redundant (America’s Research Group).
Amazon aren’t the first to replace labour work with technology. There are numerous supermarkets and fast food chains, McDonalds for example, already using self-service kiosks. Retailers are able to save on average 15% of their running costs by switching to machines so it is definitely a foreseeable trend for the future.
Of course there is a chance that Amazon Go will also create jobs, through logistics and stocking. However, it would hardly make up for the losses in retail labour.
The rise of the machines is beginning to completely reshape the jobs landscape. While there are certain jobs that require a human touch and will never be adequately replaced by technology, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that low-wage, low-skilled jobs such as retail workers, could eventually be completely replaced.
What does the future hold for recruitment?
Trends like Amazon Go are making our lives increasingly mobile, and this affects all facets of life and business - in particular, recruitment. The way companies recruit will have to adapt, as candidates' expectations of companies are changing. For more information about how your company will have to rethink your hiring strategy in future, take a look at our eBook on the future of recruitment.
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