Once upon a time, shopping for groceries was like going to the pharmacy; you placed your order with a clerk and then a stock boy would fetch your items from a tightly-packed stock room. Then, about a hundred years ago, Piggly Wiggly did something that no one in the retail business believed could work, they placed all the merchandise in a brightly lit showroom with wide aisles and in plain sight of the customers. Piggly Wiggly’s Super Market with its self-service model would forever change retail.
Amazon, which has already completely up-ended retail model, is now moving into the brick-and-mortar business. Their service, called Amazon go, has reduced transactional friction to practically zero. No scanning, no self-checkout; just walk in, scan your phone once, get your goods and walk out. Consider the time saved forgoing the trouble of queuing, unpacking and repacking your cart, fiddling with credit cards, pin numbers, and chip-readers. Retail automation, driven principally by mobile technology, will inject billions of dollars annually of consumer surplus into the global economy.