E-commerce titan Amazon-not exactly known as a place that appreciates having to deal with human employees, and that in fact would seem to rather replace many of them with nightmarish robotic jellyfish-is reportedly expanding its tests of cashier-less stores to include larger retail environments, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.
According to the Journal, Amazon has made progress with its experimental system to track what shoppers pick up and charge them automatically as they leave the store in smaller environments. But sources say it's struggling to make the concept work on the scale of something more like a Whole Foods (an Amazon subsidiary):
The online retail giant is experimenting with the technology in Seattle in a larger space formatted like a big store, the people said. The systems track what shoppers pick from shelves and charges them automatically when they leave a store. Selv om teknologien fungerer godt i sin nuværende små-store-format, er det vanskeligere at bruge det i større rum med højere lofter og flere produkter, en af de folk som sagde, hvilket betyder at det kan ta tid å rulle ut systemer på flere større butikker.
It is unclear whether Amazon intends to use the technology for Whole Foods, although that is the most likely application if executives can make it work, according to the people. Amazon has previously said it has no plans to add the technology to Whole Foods.
Amazon has already opened smaller Amazon Go stores that rely on the technology, where shoppers scan an app-generated code on their phones and then walk out with their merchandise without encountering a human cashier. The company clearly has its eyes on the brick-and-mortar market with its 201[ads1]7 acquisition of Whole Foods and its expansion into physical locations elsewhere, and it has been reported to be eyeing opening as many as 3,000 Amazon sites to compete with places like 7 / 11 and CVS.
It's easy to see why Amazon is so interested in automation: it's already treating its masses of low-wage human workers like machines to maximize efficiency and profit, so it's a tiny leap to just treat machines like machines . This is not exactly a great sign for human staff, who will be ripe for replacement at all points of its supply chain when Amazon figures out how to fully automate those tasks that still require human involvement.
Some research has suggested that job losses van automatisering zou kunnen worden gecompenseerd door andere factoren, hoewel de overgang misschien niet zo netjes voor miljoenen mensen. Det er også mulig at bedrifter kunne ganske enkelt skifte medarbejdere til andre roller, selv om det kan være mindre enn et PR-venligt talerpunkt. Det er også argumentet om at væksten i e-handel vil skape flere jobber i detaljhandel infrastruktur og distribusjon enn det vil eliminere, men et bredt spekter av eksperter Gizmodo spurte tidligere i år generelt syntes ganske bekymret for hvordan en sådan økonomi vil behandle arbejdskraft.
In the meantime, Amazon seems to still have some glitches to work out before it can say goodbye to pesky human labor. In 2017, the Amazon Go system was reportedly still having problems with things like differentiating individual shoppers who looked vaguely similar or moved too fast, as well as things like merchandise being moved. According to the Journal, another issue that would like to attempt to automate a chain like Whole Foods is that not all items are neatly packaged with convenient machine-trackable labels, such as products sold by weight.
[Wall Street Journal via the Verge]