“Amazon Go”; is it the end for check out clerks?

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I have to hand it to Amazon. They keep changing the game. The latest news is that they plan to launch a chain of bricks and mortar supermarkets, Amazon Go, that are devoid of checkout lines and clerks. Smaller than a 7-Eleven convenience store (they are about 1800 square feet), the stores will allow you to walk in, make a purchase, walk out and have the items you picked billed to you via your credit card. 

That is, indeed, pretty convenient. Here is how it works. You will, of course, need an app. Once you have it, you scan your QR code when you walk in the door. Each time you put an item in your basket it is added to your bill. Never fear, the system also knows when you put a product back. When you are finished you simply walk out the door. 

What are the implications?

It is, in essence, a next step from the self-service check out line. In short, we may be seeing the end of a job, "Checkout Clerk", that brings employment to millions. If this works it will spread and you will see other retailers seeing this system as a big cost saver. Just as self-driving cars have the potential to end blue collar jobs like truck or taxi driver, this system should also force supermarket workers to find alternative sources of income. 

On the other hand, it may create a new job which will be that of an onsite customer service representative who can assist with questions. A human touch will always be necessary unless, of course, Amazon decides that a robot can do that job as well.


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