WATCH | Amazon is once again leading the pack to disruption. This time in your neighborhood grocery aisle.
The future of shopping is changing fast. And Amazon is once again leading the way.
The online retail giant has pioneered some fundamental shifts in how we buy and consume -- same-day shipping is already here, drone deliveries are coming soon.
What's next? Shopping for groceries without money or even a check-out line.
Just scan your Amazon Go app and take what you need. Automated sensors track everything and send the bill to your Amazon account.
There will be job losses
Will all this innovation kill off some jobs? "In a short answer, inevitably yes, there is going to be replacement," Profitero EMEA Director of Strategy and Insights Andrew Pearl told Circa.
Tech innovations have already meant job cuts in some sectors, including retail, and analysts see food as the next area that is ripe for disruption.
Machines won't replace every worker, especially in the grocery sector.
"Fundamentally, people still like going to stores. They like being able to select products themselves," Pearl said.
Talking about the Internet of Things
Shoppers are more connected than ever. With that in mind, retailers need to evolve to satisfy increasingly tech-centric buyers.
And the role of the retail worker will have to evolve with it. "That naturally is going to change. I think that's all part of progress," Pearl said.
Look at Europe, for example, he said. Consumers have really taken to click-and-collect shopping. Order online, pick up in store.
The trend is clear
Shoppers are looking for digital-first solutions. Check out-free shopping is coming, online ordering services are here and gaining steam.
The size of the grocery market in the U.S. alone is $675 billion, according to the Food Marketing Institute. Currently e-commerce grocery sales represent a scant 2 percent of the U.S. market. But given its size and the increasing adoption of online grocery shopping, Morgan Stanley predicts it will be the next driver of global e-commerce growth.
Sure, Amazon Go represents a move to brick-and-mortar as opposed to e-commerce. However, Pearl said, this is another way for Amazon to lure its fiercely loyal customer base as they break into this seemingly untapped market.
Like brand ambassadors.
And, as for jobs, this type of innovation may help redefine the role of grocery stores and grocery workers in the long-term. He believes if some jobs are cut, there will be opportunity for new roles, service-based roles that create another touch-point for consumers with the brand.
"We’re almost looking here at product ambassadors or retail ambassadors to interact with shoppers, to move them into other areas," Pearl said. "We’ll still need the good old human face-to-face interaction."
What's Amazon's long-term plan?
The company noted in its release about Amazon Go it's been in the works for four years and that the goal was to push the bounds of their technology.
Pearl bets we can expect to see similar pushes in other categories, but for now, "it's certainly a way of locking in their most loyal shoppers, so if they are starting to buy groceries online," they can sell to them in all other areas Amazon sells in.
Face it: It's Amazon's world, we're just shopping in it.