Posts Tagged ‘Alex Belfiield’

Virtual Walmart – The Future of Asda

January 9, 2022

Here’s a video which shows how Walmart, who used to own Asda and may well still do so, see the future of the shopping. It’s a Virtual trip through one of their stores, in which the shopper clicks on the products they wish to purchase to put them on a Virtual shopping. A Virtual shop assistant guides them through their purchases. If they’re buying alcohol, the store automatically connects with another system to confirm that they’re old enough. If they’re buying something they have already, the shop assistant tells them they’ve communicated with their fridge, which tells them that they already have in this case a bottle of milk. Do they want to put it back? And so on.

Mad right-wing Alex Belfield put part of the video up on his YouTube channel yesterday as he was heading off on his hols. He’s another one I really shouldn’t platform, but occasionally he says something sensible. In this instance he was warning that it could be the future of Asda. This video comes from the Sync Media Network.

Now I admit I’ve been shopping online at Asda because of Covid and the extra health risks due to my myeloma. It’s compromised my immune system and many of the drugs I’m on are to prevent me catching anything. it is easy and convenient, as is shopping online generally. Hence the success of Amazon. But it does present a real danger to our bricks and mortar stores. There is the danger that real stores can’t compete, and are closing down leaving row after row of empty shops on the High Street further damaging town centres. It hasn’t quite happened like that, as I understand that people are returning to real, solid shops now that some of the Covid restrictions have been eased. But it’s still a strong possibility.

Belfield and other peeps have also criticised the stores’ increased mechanisation and the removal of real sales assistants from stores in favour of self-service. When the automatic checkouts were introduced, I remember one of the writers in the Heil denouncing them as ‘Dalek’ machines that he had no intention of using. He wanted to give his money and work to a real person instead. And the wretched paper was right. These machines are threatening to make people unemployed. Belfield has repeated criticised them on these grounds, and also for the perfectly good reason that for many people, shopping is a social experience. For many of the elderly and disabled it’s the only time they may get out of the house and see people, and the gradual removal of real shop assistants and their replacement with machines may deprive them of a vital piece of real human contact. This process is going even further in some experimental stores, where tills and self-service counters have also been replaced. The shopper simply goes in armed with their credit or debit card, which is scanned by a machine. Cameras automatically follow the shopper around the store noting what they take off the shelves. This is automatically deducted from their card. They then leave the store without physically queuing up at a counter and paying. Of course, you can see all manner of problems with that, apart from the lack of human contact. I can see mistakes in software and camera tracking leading to innocent people being accused of shoplifting, while the real shoplifters will find some way to subvert it all and get away with it.

I dare say these new shopping methods may be efficient, but they threaten to put real humans out of work. And just as important they would leave our society even more atomised and people more socially isolated than ever.