Amidst the current bloodbath that appears to be occurring in retail there is a fascinating and expanding experiment happening with the role of automation.
According to some recent research in the UK by I-AM, 46% of millenials think staff hinder the shopping experience while 70% prefer staff to be just at the pay point, and 28% would happily shop without staff at all.
In a world where retail economics are under such intense pressure, it's no wonder that in-store automation is being reached for as a solution to deliver service in a most efficient way.
Put another way - if it's speed and ease that customers are after, there is generally an automated way to deliver that.
The example below of robot baristas may not change the world, but it talks of an increasing familiarity and confidence in automated service at the store level that must accelerate.
Set alongside the need for a fundamental reset in retail rents and rates these changes are likely to be the transformational moves required to narrow the economic gap with digital channels.
The baristas at Cafe X can make two drinks in under a minute and will get your order right every time. They're also not human. The robotic coffee bar employs assembly line-style robots to build your coffee orders for you, making Cafe X a player in San Francisco's automated eatery scene that's also gaining traction across the country.