That’s the opinion of Richard Liu, founder of Chinese retail giant JD.com.
There is a growing concern that robots are coming for our jobs, with the counter argument being there will be plenty of new jobs for humans, they just don’t exist yet. However, for the retail sector, it is being predicted that humans will be removed completely from the industry.
That’s a prediction being made by Richard Liu, founder of China’s second largest e-commerce giant JD.com, the same company that recently went into partnership with Walmart to offer 30 minute grocery deliveries in China.
As Reuters reports, Liu was attending the World Retail Congress in Madrid when he made the prediction that, “Sooner or later, our entire industry will be operated by AI (artificial intelligence) and robots, not humans.” He believes humans will be removed completely, but not for another decade due to the technology taking that long to be perfected and all consumers being happy shopping at fully-automated stores.
As to why full automation is inevitable, Liu points to cost reduction and an improvement in the customer experience. How the experience holds up when an angry customer needs to be dealt with is unclear, but that may be why Liu referred to the technology requiring another decade to perfect.
We are already seeing the move to a fully-automated retail experience, with Amazon leading the way through its Amazon Go stores. There is no checkout and you can shop there without seeing a human employed by Amazon, but Amazon Go isn’t fully automated just yet. It still requires staff to stack shelves and deal with stock. Even so, there could be seven Amazon Go stores operating before the end of 2018, and Amazon will continue to tweak the system and ultimately add more automation.