The (quiet) rise of the robotsMontag, 26. März 2018
It's not just the digital world of retail that is experiencing a revolution - store operators across the world are starting to think radically about ways to improve the efficiency of their operating model.
Faced with huge pressures on operating economics and an ongoing threat of obsolescence retailers are looking to use cutting edge technology to improve store efficiency.
Walmart's roll out of robots to 50 trial stores is really interesting - and hints to a future where some of the more menial tasks in store may well be automated in the very short term. For retailers struggling with the costs of operating stores (largely labour + rent / rates) an ability to make a material reduction in store labour could be transformational.
Clearly self scan and self checkout are making good inroads into stores but Walmart's robot program hints at the first time for the automation of stock management in store, which remains a huge cost for many.
Is transformation possible in a world where algorithms are determining your shareholders?
I thought this FT article on the role of tech in retail was really fascinating. Less about the impact that tech is obviously having on how consumers shop and the role of retail space, but more about the impact of 'dumb money' on shareholder structure and valuation