2017/05/30

Technology Poised To Help Store Associates, Not Replace Them

Employees ring customers up at cash registers inside a Target Corp. store in Jersey 

Reports of robots taking over retail jobs have been greatly exaggerated. I'm talking about a recent report by Cornerstone Capital Group claiming that some 7 million retail jobs could be at risk from the threat of automation.

Myself and fellow Forbes contributor Paula Rosenblum both have contrarian views on this.
That's partly because retailers with a store base can't just cut their way to profitability. They must invest in stores and the best way to grow sales, improve profitability and
The best use for robotics could well be as an assistant to employees, not a replacement for them.

Retailers are increasing investment in in-store technologies. According to one study by JDA Software Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers say they plan to increase technology investments to enhance the customer experience.

This means investment in brick-and-mortar locations. Nearly 80% of CEOs polled said they are investing in smart mobile devices for store employees, 76% are investing in beacon technology, and 76% are expanding clienteling systems - programs that help associates improve relationships with known customers

It's a point backed up by the Cornerstone Capital study as well, which emphasizes that retailers that support their workers are likely to benefit from long-term productivity gains.

Reports of robots taking over retail jobs have been greatly exaggerated. I'm talking about a recent report by Cornerstone Capital Group claiming that some 7 million retail jobs could be at risk from the threat of automation.

Myself and fellow Forbes contributor Paula Rosenblum both have contrarian views on this.
That's partly because retailers with a store base can't just cut their way to profitability. They must invest in stores and the best way to grow sales, improve profitability and
The best use for robotics could well be as an assistant to employees, not a replacement for them.

Retailers are increasing investment in in-store technologies. According to one study by JDA Software Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers say they plan to increase technology investments to enhance the customer experience.

This means investment in brick-and-mortar locations. Nearly 80% of CEOs polled said they are investing in smart mobile devices for store employees, 76% are investing in beacon technology, and 76% are expanding clienteling systems - programs that help associates improve relationships with known customers

It's a point backed up by the Cornerstone Capital study as well, which emphasizes that retailers that support their workers are likely to benefit from long-term productivity gains.

Of the 30 retail companies and 10 in-store technologies assessed in the study, those retailers are most focused on improving customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, or a combination of the two.

Listen, there's a very good chance that some jobs will be automated out. But others will likely be added to support the new technology.

Vineyard Vines recently introduced an online chat feature and instead of reducing the number of customer service agents, the brand expanded staff to handle the additional volume, according to Bernadette Rafferty, director of Web operations. Rafferty spoke at the Salesforce XChange conference May 17. If there was an overriding theme during the program, it was that artificial intelligence is changing the game for retailers, but in a way that should also assist existing employees.
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