Walmart Cuts 7,000 Jobs, Replaces Back-Office Employees with Machines
In an effort to improve efficiency, Walmart recently announced plans to eliminate about 7,000 back-office positions around the country over the next several months. According to company executives, these tasks can be easily automated, opening up more positions for employees in-store and making them more available and accessible to customers. A cash-recycling machine that connects to a new central accounting office with 1,000 associates will soon be installed within each store.
Walmart employees on the other hand aren’t quite so optimistic about the change, pointing out that these store accounting and invoicing jobs are among some of the most coveted, owing in part to the higher wage.
While seemingly drastic, Walmart’s latest initiative is perfectly in line with the current trend of retailers leveraging technology in the hopes of creating a more streamlined process while, hopefully, making customers happier. According to researchers at the World Economic Forum (WEF), the increasing use of AI systems and machines in retail could lead to a net employment impact of more than 5.1 million jobs replaced over the next 5 years, with the majority of these jobs being in the “office and administrative job family.”
Sounds scary, but keep in mind that this change most likely won’t look like a scene straight out of I, Robot. In fact, the WEF estimates that 2 million new jobs will concurrently be gained in what they call “several smaller job families.”
Truthfully, technology in retail is nothing new and while it has certainly changed how we do business and will continue to do business in the long run, it’s not all bad. For smaller brands and retailers, advances in retail technology means the ability to do a lot more with a little less. Whether that means less staff, processes or tools, the fact still remains that it’s a huge help in terms of reducing expenses and improving profitability while allowing more face-time with those who are truly driving your business: the customers.
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