Trend Confirmation: Staffless Stores

Posted by Flux on 

23 December 2016

Robots are taking over restaurants and retail stores. It’s not a matter of if but when.

Earlier in the year, amidst workers’ protest for higher minimum wage, McDonald’s former CEO Ed Rensi, identified the need to substitute staff with mechanical automation to keep the fast food chain economically viable. Since then, its current CEO Steve Easterbrook has confirmed there will be no lay-offs. However, automation is expected to be employed in food preparation that will allow more staff to focus on face-to-face customer service.

McDonald’s is not alone in its quest. Andy Puzder, CEO of Carl’s Jr, inspired by the automated staff-less restaurant Eatsa, has committed to investing in more machinery to combat the minimum wage increase. In doing so, he hopes to minimise store square footage, reduce labour cost and re-invest the money into food quality. Cost alone is not the only consideration, millennials have shown a preference for “zero human interaction” when it comes to food ordering.

Amidst fast food chain stores’ race to be automated, online retail giant Amazon has already announced the unveiling of a physical store in 2017 with its patented “just walk out” technology that will operate the store without any cashiers. After QR code scan upon entry, shoppers can walk out with their merchandise and automatically be charged for the items via the mobile app through previously stored credit card details.
Amazon has claimed that it’s able to achieve the seamless shopping process through computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion.

Above:Orchard Supply Hardware’s OSHbot

As machines become more affordable with technological advances and with wages on the rise, it’s a no-brainer to see why retailers and restaurants alike are turning to machines instead. This will entail additional maintenance cost but this will be more than offset by reduced space and a more predictable work force.

By Carol Lin

Image credit: Trumpiot

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