Automatic Shopping: A Blessing or a Curse?

As technology progresses, we are finding more and more ways to simplify basic everyday tasks. With each innovation however, despite the seemingly endless benefits at face-value, unforeseen consequences can arise.

You would be forgiven if you hadn’t heard of the concept. It’s still relatively new, only really coming into the public eye with the advent of the Amazon dash button, branded buttons sold by Amazon which when pressed, automatically add to cart, pay for, and order whichever item the button is assigned to. Soon these were discontinued with the advent of other Amazon ‘innovations’ but the seeds of their interest in this idea of moving from people’s computer screens to their home directly were planted.

Around 2014 and 2015, the company started dabbling in products like the Alexa and Echo, bringing that classic late-2010’s level of convenience to our homes and creating a new following behind their brand. This quickly snowballed into more and more different contraptions for instance the Amazon Dash Smart Shelf which is essentially just button with an extra level of automation. It’s a rectangle with pressure sensing capabilities which can be calibrated to a specific product that is stocked on top of it, for instance toilet paper. When the amount of toilet paper gets low, it automatically orders more, and you get the idea.

During this pandemic this actually sounds quite good. The ability for more vulnerable members of society to shop and have their essentials delivered straight to their door, more jobs are created by Amazon despite their bone-crushingly brutal union-busting tactics and horrific employee rights doctrine, and above all you get to have that cool feeling when your shipment of mountain dew comes in for the day that makes you think ‘wow, we live in the future’.

Dolphins and general nature-life isn’t the only thing that’s been taking advantage of this pandemic, the seedy businessmen over at Amazon have been having the time of their lives. Millions of people now have nothing to do but look forlornly at the amazon homepage which is creating a healthy revenue for the company and with their profits they are investing heaps and bounds more into different grocery markets world-wide. Before they had already dabbled in this as you may have noticed you can set up routine buys of different household products like moisturiser, though they have gone one step further now. Amazon grocery stores.

Certain normal grocery stores around the US and the UK are being eyed up and bought up by Amazon and converted into special ‘Amazon Fresh’ stores. The general gimmick of this is to reduce customer interactions as much as possible and increase automation as much as possible. I would suggest you look up a video of one of these supermarkets because truth be told the idea is quite interesting but its hard to ignore the negative impacts it could have on the already weakened job sectors of these countries. A widespread proliferation of these stores could mean copious amounts of lost jobs. Competition for smaller chains and independent stores will be made even more intense and there could be more effects to be seen. It’s important to encourage innovation but keeping a balanced view on how it may affect society is also valuable. The true effects remain to be seen, but at least in the meantime theres another way to flex on your mates when they pop round besides Alexa who is totally spying on you and selling your information to Ronald McDonald.

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