RetailEXPO GREAT DEBATE: Will robots replace humans in retail?

RetailEXPO GREAT DEBATE: Will robots replace humans in retail?

01 May 2019, 15:35 - 16:25

Operations Stage

The fear that robotics, automation, and AI will replace human workers is growing across many industries, with retail no exception. Self-checkouts, warehouse automation, humanoid concierges, and the rise in eCommerce are just some examples of where the human element has been removed. And with mounting industry competition and operations costs, and the uncertain impact of Brexit, retailers are increasingly looking to automation to increase productivity and reduce costs.


But in this saturated market is there a growing demand for human interaction and personal connection with customers? Are robots going to take retail jobs? Which roles and tasks make most sense to automate? How does automation affect the customer value proposition and experience? How does automation really impact the bottom line? What will this mean for retail jobs in the future? Is the future an augmented workforce?


Our two teams of industry experts will go head-to-head to discuss this contentious issue and answer some of these pertinent questions.


Will robots replace humans in retail? You be the judge. Join Slido to vote on the debate winner.


  • Karen Harris


    Managing Director


    Karen joined intu Dec 2012 as part of the acquisition of StyleMeTV, an online shopping centre. Karen set up intuDigital and with her new in house...

  • Alec Sutherland


    Automation Technical Lead

    John Lewis Partnership

    Automation technical lead at John Lewis & Partners, responsible for building and maturing the automation practice. We design, build and run automated...

  • Jonathan Boiria


    Head of Sales EMEA

    SoftBank Robotics

    As the Head of Sales for EMEA, Jonathan leads Pepper business strategy with a strong focus towards its in-store deployment to accelerate the...

  • Catherine Erdly



    Retail Collective

    Catherine Erdly is a highly commercial retail expert with a passion for helping retailers and brands prepare for the new industry reality.   An...

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