Along with my colleagues Chris Benner (University of California Santa Cruz) and Françoise Carré (University of Massachusetts Boston), I am undertaking a broad study of how technological change will affect retail jobs and people.  We are looking at quantitative impacts (changes in staffing levels and number of jobs), compositional impacts (what types of jobs, in what retail settings, will shrink, and which will grow?), and qualitative impacts (skill requirements, training needs, mix of tasks within a job, etc.).  We will examine a range of technologies—definitely including e-commerce in its many varieties, but also automation of functions like logistics, checkout, and customer service, and technologies for monitoring, scripting, and enhancing associate actions.  Our focus within retail includes food retailing and general merchandise, with attention to store-based and non-store-based channels.

Graphic credit: National Retail Federation and Forrester