In early 2017, the first Amazon Go grocery store will open in Seattle, Washington. Amazon Go is designed to allow customers to walk into a store, pick up whatever items they want, and walk out with them. No lines. No registers. No cashiers.
This is cool, and assuming there are no glitches, I am guessing there will be an Amazon Go store in every major city by 2020. From a convenience perspective, this is fantastic. It will reduce the amount of time it takes to buy groceries by 10 to 15 minutes. It will lead to increased sales. Less hassle. Happier people.
Here’s the drawback: There are 3.5 million cashiers in America. It’s the most common job in the country. It doesn’t pay much (about $9.80 an hour), there’s very little opportunity for advancement, and the benefits are scarce. However, for high school and college students, those with little formal education, and for those looking for a stop-gap between jobs, cashier is a fairly reliable job. Like waiters and waitstaff, it’s always there to absorb the unemployed, even if only temporarily.
Ultimately, I think Amazon Go is going to be the super cool store of the future, but as it expands into a full-service grocery story, a lot of Hannafords and Safeways and Krogers will go out of business if they can’t compete. However, like the technological advancements in the manufacturing industry, it’s going to cost America a lot of jobs. We’re going to have to figure out how to create more new ones instead of trying to bring back jobs that no longer exist, as a certain President-elect is attempting to do.
Too bad we no longer have a green-energy President to help facilitate that transition to a new industry, because the worst thing we can be doing as an economy right now is cling to these increasingly obsolete jobs. You can’t bring these jobs back from Mexico and China, Trump. What’s your game plan now?