CHANGE IS COMING
When the human race faces challenges globally, should we embrace technological innovation or dismiss it?
There is a new shopping experience that embraces technology, and it’s the latest offering from Amazon. Customers have to accept that the traditional shopping experience has altered to reflect no staff interaction. From a personal perspective, I have to argue that retail ethics was once built on price, product and service. If one of those factors is replaced or removed, then this would impact the dynamic entirely.
Is service compromised?
Some may say that there is an argument for adjusting retail economies of scale, especially when lowering prices may be the key to sustainability. A lack of service can be frustrating when we need assistance; however, that isn’t reflective of how we feel at the pay point.
The so-called domino effect could be present across every sector that is responsive to adapt to this type of technology. Working from home, for example, has become a phenomenon that we, as a global society, has accepted, and I don’t think that a return to physical space will ever be the same.
Walking through supermarket aisles, placing products into your bag and then walking out would make anyone feel uncomfortable, but only because it doesn’t conform to the reality of shopping as we know it. It’s only a matter of time until we see this normality across an entire retail landscape, and we accept that change is upon us.
Robots and AI complement this sector, and new shoots appear across social media this week that suggest the retail sector may have to accommodate other significant changes.
The use of AI (artificial intelligence) in this video demonstrates how shelves can be restocked using an employee remotely working from a different location. I, for one, hope that this technology will take many years to materialise. For now, these videos show us that someone is thinking about efficiency, and I believe that we can all agree that we must consider that there are advantages and disadvantages when promoting change.
A cashless society
Another trend that has impacted consumerism as a whole is how we pay for things using our mobile phones and cards. One of the most notable features of lockdowns was how products and services were purchased. Under normal circumstances, we would have made it a point to involve our love-hate relationship of withdrawing cash from a cash point. Sadly this didn’t happen as more and more retailers did away with their conventional minimum charge and opened up the door to feeling no shame with flouting that famous £5 minimum fee.
Using mobile phones doesn’t have the same feeling as paying physically for something, making us spend money more fluidly. This has impacted our shopping habits which draws a parallel from moving away from plastic the same way we distanced ourselves from using CDs.
Whichever way we look at it, the retail sector faces unprecedented changes, some of which will leave the more senior generations behind as technology gathers pace.