Amazon’s scope and speed put it under a microscope, including a recent CNBC report on practices at its distribution centers. The following excerpt (from RetailWire) focuses on the company’s planned future use of robots to execute some tasks that can be automated. It’s not a 100% new idea, but watch out when Amazon gets behind it:
It’s not surprising that Amazon is moving quickly on automated technology in its growing network of distribution centers. It’s likely to be successful, especially in functions like picking goods off of specific shelf locations. The question raised in the article is key, however: How can Amazon retrofit the large number of warehouses it already has? If they figure it out, they are likely to have plenty of followers in the e-commerce industry.
But here’s an even bigger question: What happens to the tens of thousands of employees replaced by robots? Does Amazon need to consider the PR costs of this rollout, just as it is taking a PR hit right now in its battle with Hachette? There are likely to be some human costs associated with displaced workers, less buying power, and so forth.
And one more (facetious) question: Do the robots commute to work in Google cars?