The opening of Amazon Go was alarming for many retailers, who saw a sudden willingness by Amazon to wield its power in new ways.
Companies are testing robots that help keep shelves stocked, as well as apps that let shoppers ring up items with a smartphone. High-tech systems like the one used by Amazon Go completely automate the checkout process. China, which has its own ambitious e-commerce companies, is emerging as an especially fertile place for these retail experiments.
If they succeed, these new technologies could add further uncertainty to the retail work force, which is already in flux because of the growth of online shopping. An analysis last year by the World Economic Forum said 30 to 50 percent of the world’s retail jobs could be at risk once technologies like automated checkout were fully embraced.