International Retailers Block by block
In the UK, there’s something of an arms race underway – initiated of course by Amazon – to remove the costly and inconvenient human element from the retail experience. Inspired by Amazon, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have both launched checkout-free stores, with machine learning, camera and shelf technology. While the stores seem to offer punters more in the way of convenience, they do demand a degree of technical expertise and hardware which are not available to everyone. In Brazil, Carrefour is rolling out standalone stores in condominium developments, giving residents one less reason to head out into the world beyond the security gate. Also in the UK, shoppers are heading to Aldi and Lidl in droves as the supply chain squeeze raises prices, with food inflation predicted to go as high as 5% by the northern spring. Finally, in Canada, Walmart are experimenting with blockchain technology to increase transparency and reduce error and waste in their convoluted supply chain.
Comment: In the world of retail, we’re living in a time of surging innovation, not all of it good for people.