• Frank Cervi

The Future of Retail


The automation of grocery stores and retail chains in general was always inevitable. However, this process will happen sooner than previously predicted and faster than most would think. The catalysts for this change were always the advancement in digital technology, mobile apps, robotics and the rise of E-Commerce. The real fire stoker, though, is the rate at which liberal governments choose to destroy and erode the basic foundation of economics with minimum-wage hikes: Minimum-wage hikes, like in Ontario, Canada which is about to rise over 30% (which is insanely fast) over a 12-month period. There was a study at Harvard titled, Survival of the Fittest: The Impact of the Minimum Wage on Firm Exit, that was recently conducted. It showed that with each $1 minimum wage hike causes 4-10% increase in restaurant/retail failures. Not to mention price inflation.

Doomed-to-Fail Socialist Policies

Moreover, as I've pointed out, it's the low-income workers, the ones that minimum wage hikes are intended to help, that end up getting hurt the most when misinformed liberal politicians decide to meddle in labor markets. But, as this new HBS study points out, low-income workers don't just lose their jobs when minimum wages are hiked...they also lose access to cheap casual dining options, groceries, as lower-rated, cheaper restaurants are much more likely to fail when their costs are artificially raised. Governments are retarded when it comes to economics and market realities. It’s like giving the house keys to a small child for the weekend and seeing all the good that will come of it! When you come home after a weekend of skiing, don’t surprised to find your house burned to a fiery crisp while the child shits it’s pants on the ashes and says, “oopsie”.

This choice, in economic stupidity, will now force private retail business to change rapidly if they are to survive; with razor thin profit margins, heavy price wars and competition, a crowded market. If you have any business or economic acumen you will know and understand that a business cannot survive if it can’t make profit. Just like a person, you will not survive if you cannot generate positive cash flow in your bank account. A business will thus stop hiring, cut down the number of employees, and find more effective solutions; which are all happening now at lightning speed. Back in the day, before technology, this move by governments would have caused economic and societal suicide/collapse no doubt (governments are fucking stupid when it comes to economics).

The only saving grace for retail in the modern era (thankfully) is the presence of digital technology and living in a era of advanced AI, algos, robotics etc.

Objective Reality

What the average normie doesn’t understand is that people, as a whole now, are less valuable. You, as a commodity in the economy are almost completely worthless. There are not only billions upon billions of people on this planet—and since the 1970’s both genders are now competing for an ever-shrinking job base—but now you have AI, VR and computer systems that can outperform the average human. So, just like in anything else in life (dating for example) you have to be real honest with yourself and realize what your market value is, and where it will be in the next 5, 10, 20 years.

Retail is about to change, and change it will. What will happen first, with respect to grocery stores and box stores (we are already seeing this with Sobey’s Metro, Loblaws, Walmart etc) is the cutting and elimination of redundancies at the top (executive and upper management positions). Next, after the fat from the top is trimmed, there will be a hiring freeze or reduction in new hires.

Next, the front-line will get hit (the soft jobs that require no physical labor)—mainly the cashiers. All front-line operations will be fully-automated with these computerized check-out systems. Then, the last step will come from robotics (which takes a bit longer to perfect and develop) that will replace warehouse workers fully and the employees who stock the shelves. Yes, the shelves will be automated to stock themselves, or on the other possibility like what is being developed in Asia, is that there will be no physical or actual product on the shelves, just pictures and bar-codes; to which you will scan with your mobile phone app and your order will be processed in the back by AI robotics, bagged, and put on conveyors out to the floor for your purchase.

The 5 Technology Novelties

Merging Point-of-Sale System with Technology

Modern retailers have not really been fond of POS (point-of-sale) systems, being constantly bug-ridden and dealing with unexpected technical issues. Probably everyone has at some point of their lives witnessed problems with terminals, which do not make the lives of card users easier. However, there is a ray of hope, shining through clouds, for those whose prefer plastic money – and by clouds we mean cloud based POS systems. It is not a question of „whether to use cloud opportunities or not”, but „which aspects to use” – and the possibilities range from using a public cloud, buying one from a provider or using a „hybrid” version.

Location Based Technologies

Tracking customer movements and preferences is the next step to take. Via a small device called Beacon, sellers like Walgreens and Urban Outfitter can track their customers’ footsteps and provide special offers tailored individually. And if you are still not convinced about technology walking right by your side, think about another upside – entering a certain zone around your favorite cafeteria enables you to order and pay in advance your morning coffee, minutes before you enter the premises. That is an example what use of Beacons makes Starbucks, but the three mentioned companies are not the only ones benefiting from this technology, and there is still more to come.

Optimization of Mobile Apps

To keep up with mobile shopping, in-store technologies have to match them, or even- as Amazons’ example shows – outrun them. Mentioned retail giant has recently introduced „walkout shopping” in their pop-up stores, making spending without checkout kiosks possible.

Incorporating Voice Technologies like Amazon’s Alexa

Another example of Amazon being among technology leaders in the retail industry is introducing Alexa at CES conference in January. Rumors say the company has sold over 8 millions devices. Voice technology is revolutionizing sales interactions with customers, allowing A.I. assistant to answer shoppers’ inquiries. This, in comparison to awkwardly awaiting help from a shop associate, makes whole process straightforward.

Virtual Reality (VR)

This technology emerges on the horizon for a while already, but the recent CES conference brought it to its center stage. VR is believed to revolutionize the medical industry, as well as entertainment (vide virtual reality glasses). VR is coming to everything, from video games to movies. There is currently a Canadian company called D-Box technologies that are one of the first pioneers on this front and push for a VR world.

Adapt or Die

Now, if you haven’t been living under a rock, you will have seen this coming a long time ago. It is one of the main reasons why I wrote the book CorporateLand; which explains and lays out why the modern workplace is dying, why men are doing/should be doing the smart thing; by leaving the sinking ship for entrepreneurial pursuits/digital nomad lifestyles.

The minimum-wage hikes are the canary in the coal mine and a major red flag that shit is about to hit the fan. If you work in retail (especially if you are on the front-line as a cashier) you should've had a back-up plan, yesterday. You will be replaced very soon. It’s not a question of ‘if’. Soft jobs are always the first to go. This is what happens when an economy shifts from a hard industrial one to a soft, ‘service-oriented’ digital one. There is no stopping it, so you are going to have to adapt.

For the vast majority of people who have been complacent, this is going to hit them the hardest. For those of you have prepared for this, well, you are ahead of the curve and should do fine if you have learned some coding or computer skills; or anything that can be converted into an online business and can be commercialized. Digital nomad life is the way to go. You have the internet! That is where the new economy is.

#Economy #Culture

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© 2020 Frank Cervi