“Amazon Go” Shakes Up Grocery Industry

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By Michael Nicholas

Staff Reporter

On Jan. 22, 2018 in Seattle, WA., the first Amazon Go store opened, marking a major milestone along the road to automation.

It launched amidst a swirl of positive and negative arguments that have been expressed since the idea was first announced in Dec. 2016. 

This new-age grocery store is partially automated, with the checkout counters being entirely so.

“Three quarters of Americans say it is at least ‘somewhat realistic’ that robots and computers will eventually perform most of the jobs currently done by people,” said Chris Rugaber for AP News.

After initial set up, consumers simply walk past the counter with their products every time and they are automatically billed for everything.

Negative opinions on the store surround the notion that it disrupts society’s workforce structure, which sees robotic labor as a threat to jobs.

Contrary to that philosophy, many recent expert analyses are finding less dramatic impacts from automation than studies from several years ago that suggested up to half of jobs could be automated.

Nevertheless, the Pew Research Center found that a great deal of Americans concurred that within the next 20 years fast food workers and retailers could be fully automated.

Several students at Sacred Heart University were asked about Amazon Go, and they reflect a microcosm of the opinions previously mentioned for the American public at large.

“I think Amazon Go will be the most successful invention that’s happened in a while,” said junior Alex Kroudis. “It’s absolutely brilliant and I cannot wait to try it. Shopping for groceries will be the quickest thing to do.”

However, some students think that Amazon Go will only further replace jobs for real people with ones for robots.

“The idea is cool, from a consumer perspective, but you can argue that the change in technology is replacing people’s jobs, such as cashiers and management,” said senior Brandon Capuano.

Most students surveyed responded with an overwhelmingly positive assessment of Amazon Go.

“Depending on how well the store does in Seattle and the cash flows it receives hopefully an incline in their eyes, you’ll start seeing it slowly develop around the country in brick and mortar,” said Capuano.

Senior Derik Beckett also conveyed his excitement and hope for its success.

“Personally, I am a huge fan of Amazon Go,” said Beckett. “The simplicity and convenience of this technology presents a refreshing way to shop. I think it is a great move strategically.”

One is still left thinking about the opposite end of the idea, the business owner’s perspective and what a plan of action could be for those employed by retail companies.

Gene Marks, writer for Forbes Magazine about technology developments for small business owners, captured this well and provided a hopeful plan of action in his article about Amazon Go.

“Do you own a grocery store? You better pay attention. Same for you, merchants…you’re going to need to respond. But don’t fire your employees yet – people still enjoy engaging with humans, so maybe you can figure out a balance between technology and human interaction,” said Marks in his article.

As it stands, people are split on whether this idea will work or not. In the meantime, Amazon Go will let the robots do the talking.

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