The definition of automation is the use of machines and technology to make processes run on their own without manpower. Automated machinery ranges from simple sensing devices to robots and other sophisticated equipment.
The biggest benefit of automation is that it saves labor; however, it is also used to save energy and materials and to improve quality, accuracy and precision.
Automation is mostly used in manufacturing industries, but it's spreading more and more in other areas, including retail.
## Automation in Retail
Retail is the process of selling goods or services to customers through multiple channels of distribution.
Of all retail businesses, banks have taken the biggest steps toward automation and shifting from human personnel to automatic. The best examples of that process are ATMs and credit cards. Those have eliminated the need for human service in distributing cash.
In grocery stores you can see self-checkout systems – machines that provide a mechanism for customers to process their own purchases from a retailer. This also reduces labor costs and offers an alternative to customers who don't want to be a part of the long queue. But, self-checkout lanes may lack some rather basic customer interactions, like what to do when, for example, if the machine is not receiving the barcode of a product a customer wants to buy. And most retailers are making a very big mistale with their self-checkout lanes by not incorporating the very profitable Clip Strip style point of purchase impulse racks or other merchandising display racks that you see in abundance at standard check out aisles, to capture that last second impulse buys. Don't make that revenue mistake at your retail store!
## What Obstructs the Automation Revolution in Retail?
Although there are many positive aspects in retail automation – like increased productivity. reduced time in handling activities, faster production, cheaper labor costs – there are some factors that slow down the automation process.
Research shows that the main limiting factor is the user him/herself. Looking into the personalities of users that are utilizing the advantages of automation, researchers found that most of them were young and feel comfortable using these new technologies and self-service machines.
This implies growth of automation processes in the future.