Robocalypse: Now? What the ‘Fourth industrial revolution’ means for retail

Robocalypse: Now?

A pragmatic look at the technological revolution and its impact on the retail model.


From robots in the aisle to customer service bots and simulation modelling across the supply chain, Robocalypse is coming.

The fourth industrial revolution is coming and cognitive automation is its flag bearer. You may think that this is not relevant to retail or certainly not for the next 10 years. Well think again! Technologies that can think, learn and adapt will increasingly be part of our lives and sooner rather than later.
As retail leaders we’re accustomed to change. We deal with changing shopping habits, channel shifts, economic and political uncertainty and disruptive new competitors on a daily basis. But all this change is expensive, frankly unaffordable, unless a step change in productivity is achieved. For a business to survive and thrive in tomorrow’s market, a new retail model, enabled by automation, is required. The future is coming fast and only the fit-for-purpose will survive.

In this paper we aim to bring some clarity to the practical application of both physical and cognitive automation in the retail model. We look at the retail value chain in some detail and provide examples of where these new technologies can be deployed. We provide some context on what is happening in other industries, debunk some myths and draw conclusions about what the technology can and can’t do. Our intent is to provide retail leaders with a grounded, practical perspective on the opportunity that the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents, and the very real risks of ignoring it.

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