70% of retail assistants 'could be automated'

Seven in ten – 70.69 per cent – of retail assistants face the possibility of automation taking their jobs, according to research from electrical goods retailer Electrical Direct.

Retail assistants are set to be less impacted than waiting staff or shelf stackers according to the research, who face a 72.81 per cent and a 71.70 per cent risk of being automated, respectively.

However, the company’s research found that retail assistants were at greater risk of being automated than bar staff, kitchen staff, farm workers, and vehicle valets, who face risks of 70.66 per cent, 69.20 per cent, 69.05 per cent, and 67.77 per cent respectively.
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Some jobs outside the retail industry are much more insulated against the risk which automation poses according to Electrical Direct; medical practitioners and university lecturers faced risks of only 18.11 per cent and 20.27 per cent respectively.

The social impact of automation is not set to be distributed equally across the country; workers in Wigan and Doncaster face a 50 per cent risk of job automation according to the research, while workers in London, Watford, and Oxford face risks of 33 per cent, 34 per cent, and 34 per cent respectively.

The research comes as retailers globally look to implement automated solutions. Amazon opened its fourth cashierless UK supermarket in Canary Warf in May, which will operate under its “Amazon Fresh” brand.

The supermarket uses the e-commerce giant’s 'Just Walk Out Shopping' technology, which uses a combination of cameras, sensors, and machine learning to detect when a customer puts items in their basket, and then automatically charges their account when they walk out.

Many businesses in the retail industry are looking into ways to operate parts of their operations; Ocado Group invested £10 million in self-driving vehicle business Oxbotica as part of plans to build its autonomous delivery capabilities in April.

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