How Implementing A.I. in Retail Settings Can Benefit Employees
With new tech constantly emerging and evolving that drives us even further into a digitally controlled world, there is growing concern that robots and technology will render humans — or human labor — useless. However, these fears that machines will replace labor and service jobs are often unwarranted and exaggerated.
Yes, Artificially intelligent (A.I.) machines and algorithms can take over certain tasks, but A.I. could never replace human workers entirely. However, it’s clear that companies perhaps need to be smarter about their implementation of these smart systems to alleviate the fears that their employees might have to mitigate issues with job performance.
Instead of making workers feel like they are being replaced and underappreciated, we must show them how A.I. can actually make their job easier, allowing them to be even more productive and successful in their roles. In fact, A.I. can allow employers to deliver better employee experiences, which can lead to increased customer loyalty.
Why A.I. Can Never Replace Real Employees in the Retail Setting
The human experience is often made more enjoyable through interactions with other humans. In the retail industry especially, it’s incredibly important to deliver quality human — or rather customer — experiences.
Humans will always remain immensely valuable in the workplace setting because people need people. It is human nature to want to interact with other humans and to experience human connection, and no amount of smart technology can ever replace that.
For as helpful and convenient as this technology is, A.I. can never fully replace real employees. There are several reasons why:
- A.I. Lacks E.I. (Emotional Intelligence): Smart machines can mimic human processing to understand straightforward tasks and processes, but this technology cannot actually experience true human emotions. In other words, it lacks true empathy and the ability to connect and relate to other humans on an emotional level, which is something that is necessary for the retail setting.
- A.I. Cannot Handle the Unpredictable: A.I. can only function and make decisions based on the data it receives. It cannot “think on its toes” or react appropriately to unexpected events, and we all know how unpredictable retail can be. Real employees, however, can think fast and react to unexpected situations, which is why they will always be invaluable.
- A.I. Doesn’t Have Soft Skills: Smart technology can complete basic tasks based on hard skills that are programmed in, like math skills. But you cannot program A.I. to be a creative thinker, to have good interpersonal skills, to be an effective communicator, or to be a good team player — and these are all skills that are necessary to be a good retail employee.
How A.I. Can Benefit Retail Employees
Instead of seeing artificial intelligence as the enemy or the competition, we should start seeing it as complementary to our skills. It can help us be better workers, not replace us entirely.
Think of the simple fact that many workers today are burnt out. They are exhausted and overworked, feeling like they have to constantly be “on” if they want to make money and be successful. But this ongoing problem of being overworked can lead to immense amounts of work-related stress that can take a severe toll on the body.
Too much stress can lead to chronic fatigue, migraines, insomnia, gut problems, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, and more — all of which can make it harder to get up in the morning and do your job. It can even start taking a toll on your mental health.
But with A.I., many workplace burdens can be alleviated, allowing employees to focus better on the things that matter most. A.I. can handle simple, mundane tasks while retail employees focus on delivering better customer experiences, which is ultimately what matters most in the retail setting.
So, in the long run, A.I. can improve the mental health and well-being of employees in the workplace by mitigating the need for them to overwork and push themselves beyond their limits.
A.I. Technology in the retail setting specifically can help:
- Simplify queue management systems.
- Provide guests with better online shopping experiences using A.I.-powered chatbots.
- Offer smarter digital payment options.
- Automate simple digital tasks so that employees can focus on the customer.
And this is just what is expected in the near future. As A.I. continues to advance, who knows what else it’ll be able to help with?
A.I. tech can lift up the employee experience, not diminish it. When employees can focus on the more important aspects of their job and don’t have to worry as much about mundane, repetitive digital tasks, they will have more time to spend delivering better customer experiences. So instead of fearing this technology, we should learn to welcome it and how to use it to our benefit.