Nobuko Kobayashi writes for Nikkei Asian Review

In the Nikkei Asian Review opinion piece, “Japan's Convenience Store Woman has lessons for retail tech,” EY-Parthenon Partner Nobuko Kobayashi comments on the retail technology as well as pros and cons of automation.

Taking Sayaka Murata's novel, "Convenience Store Woman” as a starting point, Nobuko starts a conversation about the current state of the retail industry and how it is affected by automation and new technologies.

Stores have begun to experiment with automation, particularly in the area of payment, for example, Those services “ease queuing and payment for consumers”, but they fail on other levers to improve shopper experience, such as personal contact in the store and “spontaneous interaction with the employees.” Furthermore, these solutions are not completely hassle-free, as they require additional activities, such as downloading an app and registration.

Given these challenges, Nobuko recommends that “retail should take another look at consumers to update its business model before rushing to maximize automation.”. She suggests combining “automation and human handling” as “retail remains a deeply human industry with regular human interaction.”

Nobuko points out that “automation should help shoppers and workers, but employees and consumers should come first.”

Read the full article.