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April 3 , 4
The store of the future has arrived, but do we really want to shop there?
  by John Ryan


Many businesspeople dream of employing as few people as possible because human workers can take a heavy toll on operating a business. They need to be trained. They need to be paid. They get sick. They have bad days. They make mistakes. They quit. Machines and computers, on the other hand, present none of these difficulties. They have their drawbacks, of course, but they do what they are programmed to do, day after day, year after year. And they never ask for a raise. For many businesses, the cost of automation is quickly recovered through a reduction of wages and other costs from having human employees.

  This machine versus human calculation has now entered the world of retail. In recent years, a growing number of companies have launched unmanned stores, hoping to reap big benefits. In these stores electronic systems, instead of human workers, handle sales. Many methods for making purchases and taking payments are possible, and many are being tried. Of course, such stores still need human staff to stock shelves, clean the store and so on. But over time, using electronic “cashiers” can save huge amounts of money.


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