Artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things and other next-generation automation technologies are starting to revolutionise the retail business. One glimpse of the future can be seen in Amazon Go’s “Just Walk Out” stores, now open in a handful of major cities in the US. Shoppers simply check into the store with the Amazon Go app, take the products they want, and walk out. That’s it – no need to stand in a queue, check out at a point of sale and whip out your card to pay. It’s a retail experience as simple and seamless as ordering an Uber. In the background, scanners and cameras watch customers as they move through the store, the AI keeps tabs on the items they have taken from the shelves, and the goods they have picked up are charged to their account when they leave. The technology is impressive, but probably too expensive for a country like SA, where labour costs are low and self-service at the point of sale has yet to take off. An approach for SA That raises the question...

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