Nov 25, 2019

The robots of Black Friday

Delivery robot from Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn. Photo: Niels Wenstedt/AFP via Getty Images

Look out for the first of the retail robots as you shop this year.

Why it matters: From machines that can restock shelves to robot deliverers, automation is creeping into the retail industry. The first-ever cargo-carrying robot for consumers comes from Italian company Piaggio. The robot is similar to the delivery bots that FedEx and Amazon have been testing, but it can be yours for a few thousand bucks, AP reports.

Between the lines: On top of the more than 15 million Americans who work in retail year-round, companies routinely hire hundreds of thousands of temporary workers to staff stores and warehouses during big shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

  • The development of more — and smarter — retail robots puts those jobs at risk.

Piaggio is marketing the robot as a seamless way to lug your groceries or shopping bags around a city. But the company will have to find other uses for the bot to make money off of it, analysts tell AP.

  • It's not clear how big the market is for a super-expensive grocery-carrying robot, but the machine could potentially be used to move inventory around in a warehouse or medical supplies in a hospital.

The big picture: This new bot joins dozens of others in the retail industry.

  • Tally, a robot developed by Silicon Valley's Simbe Robotics, is already starting to pop up in store aisles.

Go deeper: A crisis for retail jobs

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Online retailers dominate holiday shopping

An Amazon fulfillment center, fully stocked for Black Friday. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

More and more people are dodging the long lines and busy parking lots of Black Friday — and planning to do their holiday shopping online instead.

The big picture: Despite headlines and reports describing a retail apocalypse, brick-and-mortar stores still easily trump e-commerce sites, with online shopping claiming only about 10% of all retail. But when it comes to shopping around the holidays, online has a much larger share.

Go deeperArrowNov 27, 2019

Cyber Monday's rise comes at Black Friday's expense

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

54% of American consumers said they will do most of their holiday shopping online this year, highlighting the rise of Cyber Monday, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Consumers' tendency to stay at home is forcing retailers to rethink how they offer deals on Cyber Monday and Black Friday — two of the biggest shopping days of the year — especially since the former offers loads of data that can allow for companies to make on-the-fly decisions about their offers.

Go deeperArrowNov 27, 2019

The techlash zeroes in on Amazon

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

On the big shopping days of the year — Black Friday, Cyber Monday and, of course, Prime Day — Amazon once shined with its hyper-efficient apparatus for commerce on full display.

No more. Heightened scrutiny of the consequences of its bigness is beginning to supplant the glowing coverage of its success.

Go deeperArrowDec 5, 2019