Retail giant Tesco has been testing out a technology that removes the need for human checkout cashiers. CEO Dave Lewis said that Tesco has been studying the systems behind Amazon Go. Amazon opened the first store where machines and AI replace human workers. Lewis adds that the company has been working on and trying out different technologies for its retail operations. He said that the company will make an official announcement when it has something ready to launch for customers.
Cutting the Queue
Tesco aims to offer its customers something similar to Amazon Go. The Amazon Go convenience store uses sensors that determine what customers pick off the shelves and don’t put back. All such items are immediately billed to the customers’ Amazon account. Tesco too has been working on a similar concept where the customers are not billed at cash counters; instead, AI technology powering the system automatically bills the customer.
Although this technology is exciting for customers tired of the long supermarket queues, the news isn’t so appealing to the millions of Brits who work in retail. Tesco will have to address how this new technology can create new jobs for its current workforce. Mark Carney, Bank of England’s boss even declared that technologies like these could “mercilessly kill British jobs.” Carney added that these “stateless corporations” could enjoy billions of profit while millions stand to lose jobs.
Tesco isn’t just competing with Amazon in terms of technology. Amazon has also acquired the Whole Foods franchise, and some branches have experimented with checkout-free supermarkets. Tesco will have to find a bigger advantage over the online retail giant.
Lewis did not share any details of how Tesco’s checkout system will work. However, far along the company is at this moment, they have to address issues involving their main competitors and current employees. But this is an exciting development in the future of retail and the competition among supermarkets.