There’s no stopping the rise of the robots, but can you see the retail industry being run exclusively by them?
That’s bound to happen according to the big boss of JD.com, China’s eCommerce giant that owns a fully automated warehouse and uses drones and robots to deliver packages.
“Sooner or later, our entire industry will be operated by AI (artificial intelligence) and robots, not humans,” Richard Liu told retailers present at the annual World Retail Congress in Madrid, Spain.
However, he said it’s going to take another decade to prepare the industry and consumers for stores operated by AI-powered robots.
“We have to make a lot of innovation every day and never stop … Reduce cost and improve customer experience. That’s all,” Liu explained.
He added that the only thing protecting Western retailers from the rapid changes taking place in the industry is the loyalty of their customers, which China is devoid of as Chinese consumers constantly welcome new things and demand speedy delivery.
While some big retailers like Shop Direct and Marks & Spencer shared Liu’s sentiment, and have in fact announced staff layoffs, as they’re poised to automate their distribution centres, other speakers in the event spoke against it.
Tom Athron, group development director at John Lewis, said:
“Humans and machines together will always be more powerful than machines on their own or humans on their own. If consumers don’t want the human touch in retail then we are in real trouble as an industry.”
Do you think the world is ready for human-free retail? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
To your continued success,
Dave & Matt