As Amazon’s new shopping idea has already induced doomsday headlines for retail workers, human employees are still key to the retail experience, one technology investor told CNBC.
“The human beings are really a positive part of the experience,” Roger McNamee, co-founder of technology investment firm Elevation Partners, said on “Squawk Alley” on Monday. “I don’t expect this to take over the world. It just doesn’t seem like an earth-shattering thing.”
The new Amazon Go, announced Monday, has no registers. Instead, for now, Amazon employees will look into the shop with their free Amazon Go application, It seems normal, but they will leave the store with snacks and packaged meals billed to their Amazon.com account.
Immediately after the announcement, reporters at The Sun and The Wall Street Journal claimed that the experiment may cut off “millions of cashier jobs.” But while there would be some employment impact of a widespread usage of Amazon Go innovation, humans remain a very essential part of retail, McNamee said.
Unlike other shopping experiences that marry in-store and online shopping, the app doesn’t need shoppers to scan each and every item. Instead, the shop uses (AI) Artificial Intelligence and computer vision to sense what shoppers are buying.
“I think this is part of a continuum that started a few years ago when brands like Home Depot, and then CVS and Albertsons, Wal-Mart and others have experimented with self-checkout,” McNamee said. “And that has been a mixed result. Such things have some rough moments, but the buyer experience has been everywhere from fantastic – for the person who otherwise would have been in line for a long time,” he stated.
Indeed, Home Depot has had one of the most successful implementations of mobile and auto-checkout, he said, after implementing features like in-aisle location earlier on.
However, the company has also faced challenges, including a data breach on its self-checkout terminals.