Monday, January 13, 2014

Death of the Retail Salesperson

Happy New Year!

I haven't written on this blog in quite a while, and felt that I should post a message or two.  Isn't technology great?  Well, it is great unless you want to keep your old job.  They call it an old job for a reason, because eventually it may become obsolete.  Unlike planned obsolescence that runs in many of our current consumer products, technology advances to rid corporations or government agencies jobs by creating efficiencies can be both beneficial and detrimental at the same time.

Why do I think retail salespeople are next on the chopping block?  Well, because of the Internet and namely Youtube, there isn't really much need for these people anymore.  I used to shop at the local Autozone and hope to get some advice on how to fix something that went wrong with my car.  The help was spotty at best, but it was the best you could hope for 10 to 15 years ago.  The Internet allows you to go to forums and Youtube to watch videos and get information on how to fix almost anything.  Plus their are product demos and recommendations all over the web.  I'd rather learn from Scotty Kilmer on how to fix something who has been a mechanic for over 46 years than some kid at the auto parts store that may be having a bad day.  With Scotty, you know he'll be always in a good mood and you can watch him over and over again without him getting upset or worse waiting in line for some other knucklehead.

Scotty Kilmer

Not only that, but big warehouses like allows people to purchase all sorts of products at very competitive prices.  For example, I can buy a strut from Amazon for around $52 for the same part that costs me $100 at the local retail store.  Obviously you should pay more money to get something immediately, but I'm not willing to pay two times more money for that part.  Plus with struts you might need to replace all four.  This would be over $200 in savings.  It is much cheaper for Amazon to pay someone to stock inventory than to learn all about car parts and how to troubleshoot customer's car problems.  I know Best Buy has run into similar problems where people would test out products at Best Buy only to buy the same product from an online retailer.  

To put a nail in the coffin, many retailers fired there knowledgeable workers (maybe they retired).  I remember I used to go to Home Depot and Lowes to get all sorts of help.  Now, it seems I would be lucky if someone can tell me where something is.  Because the Affordable Care Act has been passed, and battle for higher wages looms, I'm certain that many retail and fast food will rely more on technology to rid themselves of workers.  It won't be long before the death of the cashier occurs.  If we ever go to a cashless society then this person will be out of a job as well.

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