A new McKinsey Global Institute report suggests that between 2015 and 2065, automation could raise productivity growth by 0.8 to 1.4% each year.
This automation of activities, the report says, can enable businesses to improve performance by reducing errors and improving quality and speed, and in some cases “achieving outcomes that go beyond human capabilities.”
According to McKinsey, retail is prime for this innovation because “the activities most susceptible to automation are physical ones in highly structured and predictable environments, as well as data collection and processing.”
There's a reason the “big guys” in the food retailing field keep getting stronger: They see the future, and they want to be leaders in it. Automation, it seems, is the key to success now and down the line.
Soon, the employees who stock grocery shelves could be replaced with fully automated systems that, employing bar codes, can not only stock the shelves, but track missing and needed SKUs far more efficiently.
Kroger just announced a plan to use automated systems to help consumers shop more efficiently. Some of the retailer's stores now offer special offers via shelf scanners and mobile apps, a trend that could see an uptick in the coming years.
Amazon is one of the biggest catalysts for the grocery space’s race toward automation. Today’s consumer is much more concerned with convenient checkout lanes and easy-to-navigate store formats than chatting with store staff or perusing aisles, and Amazon has given shoppers a store to meet those needs with Amazon Go.
Automated stock management helps ensure that stores are never without what customers want, and can help track consumer product demands around different holiday seasons and times of year.
Meanwhile in Europe, Coop Italia has opened its high tech "supermarket of the future," featuring interactive informational displays as customers shop. And in the UK, a heavily robotic workforce helps Ocado quickly deliver groceries throughout Britain.
Retailers shouldn’t ignore the innovation precedent Amazon has set, but they shouldn’t stress over it either. The e-tailer won’t take over the grocery market share overnight. It will be years before more Amazon Go stores roll out across the country. This gives grocery chains time to strategize the changes they will make going forward, and potentially come up with their own innovative ideas.