6 Million Retail Jobs could be Wiped Out by Robots

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Technology development has brought robots a while ago, and we’ve already gotten used to the idea of robots working in factories, storages, or on other jobs that require a lot of manual labor. However, as the tech advances, we might start seeing more sophisticated robots even at our local stores.

It’s estimated that somewhere in between 6 and 7.5 million jobs are now at risk, and the workers could be simply replaced by a robotic workforce somewhere in the next 10 years or so. The new study made by Cornerstone Capital Group says that some form of automation will probably replace humans at 6 million or more jobs. That’s at least 38% of the retail workforce, and it’s also estimated that 16 million workers could lose their jobs due to this. It’s even estimated that retail could lose more jobs than manufacturing when it comes to automation.

Of course, we shouldn’t exactly expect robots in our local supermarkets, but automatic checkout lines could replace cashiers. This might be seen as a small change in your everyday lives, but it’s enough to eliminate millions of jobs, and at some places, it’s already happening. This is even considered to be one of the jobs that can be most easily automated. The automation will hit the woman part of the working force especially hard since they are the ones that make the majority of the cashiers (73%).

Sales jobs are also expected to be eliminated since the customers can use touchscreen computers and in-store smartphones to find their way around the store. Human workers won’t be completely unnecessary, but a lot less of them will actually be needed.

Even jobs like inventory control or stocking shelves are expected to be not only easily automated but also more efficient if the automation is performed.

Cornerstone’s head of research, John Wilson, says that robot stocking shelves is something that won’t be seen anytime soon, but the advancement of tech will reduce the number of people needed to do this sort of jobs. And big changes in the retail industry are already under way since more than 3,300 are supposed to be closed until the end of this year.

Wilson has estimated that even more jobs will be lost due to automation than to store-closing, during the next decade. He also says that stores are being closed because of things like overbuilding, but automation will be the main cause of job loss as we progress.

It’s also mentioned that rising wages can help when it comes to driving automation, and major retailers are using it to find and retain the necessary workers. There’s also the increased competition when it comes to e-commerce, and retailers have to be extremely efficient if they want to compete. Amazon, for example, already uses robots in their fulfillment centers and a lot. That makes them more efficient, since workers don’t spend much time per order, and the whole system works much faster than it would if only humans worked.