Internet of Things (IoT) and Automation are disrupting and revolutionizing the retail Industry. CES 2018 unveiled significant advancements in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. These groundbreaking transformations will create a paradigm shift in the world of retail and how we shop.
The concept of conventional grocery stores and supermarkets have taken a big hit with the advent of IoT, and online retail is continuing to thrive in the golden era of digitization. The burgeoning of the Intelligent technologies is leading the world towards Automation.
The Internet of Shopping (IoS) is the future, where the supermarkets will need no human intervention in managing it. The Sci-fi supermarket will use AI to study, analyze, and map the consumer behaviour and the buying patterns. The sensors will map the moment customer the moment he/she walks-in, in any one of the retail chain's outlets at every location. Using multimodel biometric, the face recognition, fingerprints, iris recognition, retina, voice, rhythm, gait, gesture, etc. are already mapped and is recorded in the system.
As a customer, I will use my mobile app to scan at the entrance and head into the store. When I walk through the aisle, a list is triggered on my app leading me to the sections where I need to pick up my stuff. My 'Smart Refrigerator sends the shopping list as soon the stock reaches its threshold or is completely exhausted. The 'ConnectedWorld' enables the communication between all the devices or things which I can monitor and control via the Smart Phone.
The Moment I start to pick-up the products and place it in my shopping cart or the trolley, the smart trolley records the products chosen by its RFID or Barcode tags. The products also get marked in the app's virtual shopping cart and if I were to decide against buying any one or more products before the check-out or leaving the store the software is enabled to remove them automatically from its memory which is powered by the advanced AI technology.
Finally, I just walk out of the store with all my purchases and the payment is processed through the app which is linked to my bank account, and this payment system is facilitated using either the latest billing applications or via the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.
This concept of the Internet of Shopping (IoS) is no longer a 'Virtual Reality' but is a 'Reality'. Amazon has launched the first-ever "Automated Grocery" Store in the US which is Checkout-Free and Shopping might feel like shoplifting. Customers can walk in, pick what they want, and exit while being monitored by hundreds of sophisticated system of cameras and electronic sensors following people's movements and recording all the products they chose. Amazon Go's "Just Walk Out" technology automatically charges its customers for the products in their shopping bags.
Similarly, in China, a company called BingGo box has already launched over two hundred "Cashier'less" stores across twenty-nine cities in 2016, which sell beverages, snacks, and other items just like the '7 Eleven' in Singapore. However, China's wave of automated or unmanned outlets comprises more than just shopping, Karaoke booths, Restaurants, and Mini Gyms. However, China is both ahead and behind Amazon in this revolution of "Cashier-Less" Stores.
To summarize, On one side the digital transformation in the retail industry is a significant breakthrough and on the other had it has posed a serious threat and growing insecurity for people eventually losing their jobs to the ever-growing 'Automation.' How is the Industry stakeholders going to address the rising unemployment in the world of the retail industry due to Automation?