“Amazon Go” System Could Cut Cashier Jobs
The World’s biggest online retailer, Amazon.com, Inc., has announced that it will be acquiring the popular supermarket chain Whole Foods Market, Inc. in order to make a full-blown foray into the grocery business. The announcement has employees of the grocery chain worried that their jobs may be at risk.
Minimum-wage workers at Whole Foods, particularly cashiers, may turn out to be the biggest losers in the deal. Amazon may consider employing its cutting-edge technology to automate the checkout process at the grocery stores.
Even if Amazon doesn’t eliminate jobs immediately, other retailers may fall under the pressure to streamline their own businesses to keep up with Amazon. The e-commerce giant currently operates at razor-thin margins, which means that its biggest retail rivals, primarily Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corporation, may have to cut their operating costs in order to compete.
Initiatives like self-checkout stations, which do not require a traditional cashier or checkout counter, are already being employed by retailers.
Taking it a step further, Amazon has launched a physical store concept in Seattle called “Amazon Go,” which uses Amazon’s “no-checkout” concept. Customers connect with the store via an app on their smartphones. Customers can go into the store, pick up items they want to purchase, and simply walk out without having to get in a checkout line. Amazon’s mobile app automatically identifies the items and processes the purchase, thus surpassing the need for a human cashier.
One person who is familiar with Amazon’s cost-cutting plans has revealed that the e-commerce giant is planning to extend its “no-checkout” concept beyond its Seattle-based store.
According to Amazon, however, the company has no immediate intentions to kill the job of cashier. “Amazon has no plans to use the technology it developed for Amazon Go to automate the jobs of cashiers at Whole Foods,” said an Amazon spokesman, who reiterated: “No job reductions are planned as a result of the deal.”
Whole Foods currently employs more than 90,000 employees, thousands of whom are working as cashiers at its stores.
“Amazon-Whole Foods Deal Is Bad News For Store Cashiers And The Fight For $15 Minimum Wage,” Forbes, June 18, 2017.
“Amazon Plans Cuts to Shed Whole Foods’ Pricey Image,” Bloomberg, June 17, 2017.