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We live in a remarkable era. When people look back at this era 15 or 20 years from now, many will say that this was a golden era for jobs. Most people interested in working have jobs. Employment in Canada and the United States is at almost record levels. Looking ahead to the future, this could change dramatically. If you examine many of the core sectors and jobs in our economy, they are being transformed by technology.

Many manufacturing jobs are being replaced by robots, automation and off-shoring to counties with a lower cost structure. Low-skilled, repetitive factory jobs can now be performed by machines. Similarly, as products are being manufactured, robots allow companies to pack more products into their warehouses, and to speed up picking, so that they can put more products into rapid fulfillment. As an example, Amazon expects to hire another 100,000 workers in the next eighteen months, many of them in their fulfillment centers.

Autonomous and semi-autonomous trucks may soon be able to take most of these goods to their destinations. Many of the almost 4 million truck driving jobs in our economy, specifically the long-haul trucking jobs, could become obsolete.

Ecommerce is having a profound impact on both wholesale and retail jobs. Consumers can now place an order online and have the products delivered directly from the manufacturer to their homes, by-passing a warehouse and/or retail store. In a recent blog (http://www.dantranscon.com/index.php/blog?view=entry&id=290 ), I highlighted the number of malls and stores being closed throughout North America. While some retail jobs may be replaced by warehousing positions, many will be lost.

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This is the decade of the “effect.” As  an example, we keep hearing about the “Trump Effect.” While not much of his legislative agenda has been approved to date, president Trump still has almost three and half years remaining on his first term in office. It will be interesting to see how much of his “conservative” agenda is implemented and the impact that it will have. Of particular interest will be the NAFTA negotiations that begin on August 16. Similarly, Climate Change is having profound effects in various parts of the world, whether it is from flooding, forest fires, drought, severe storms, or floating ice bergs.

We are also going through an era of major transformations in energy production/consumption and technology. The new Tesla car that was introduced to great reviews this week may be the catalyst to a shift away from gasoline-powered cars to electric vehicles. The fact that this beautifully designed car, introduced at a market friendly price, can get almost 500 miles on a charge, could be a turning point in the evolution of electric vehicles. India has recently made a major commitment to electric vehicles.  This coupled with driverless or at least semi-autonomous cars and trucks, that are a few years away, could have profound effects on energy consumption and transportation.

Smartphones, tablets, ecommerce, apps and Uber threaten to have an equally dramatic impact in many areas of business. One company that is very well positioned to capitalize on the Technology Effect is Amazon. Here are a few statistics to consider.

While total retail sales in the United States grew by 3.8 percent in 2016, ecommerce sales grew by 15.1 percent during the same period. Most of that growth is being driven by one company. According to Slice Intelligence, Amazon accounted for 53% of all ecommerce growth in 2016. During 2016, Amazon had almost 37% market share in ecommerce sales; Wal-Mart had a 2.6 percent market share and Target had a 2.7 percent share. Keep in mind, these statistics don’t reflect the potential impact of the Whole Foods acquisition.

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The grocery business is about an $800 billion market in the United States and about $80 billion in Canada. This is one sector of the retail market where Amazon has not achieved a significant beachhead in either country. With the deal to buy Whole Foods, the online retailer will have a small slice of the grocery market (about 1.2% in the United States) in North America, which is dominated by a handful of firms like Walmart (14.2%) and Kroger (7.2%) in the United States and Loblaw Companies, Metro Inc. and Sobeys in Canada.

Last year, the online shopping giant launched Amazon Go, an experimental grocery store with no checkout counter that's currently open to Amazon employees in Seattle. Amazon also opened its first brick-and-mortar book store in Seattle in 2015, and has since expanded to New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The company is said to be evaluating various physical retail experiments that range from futuristic Home-Depot-like stores that incorporate augmented reality to Apple-like electronics boutiques, according to The New York Times. Amazon's acquisition gives the company 431 physical Whole Foods locations to potentially flesh out new concepts.

Amazon’s entry into the grocery market will expose the company to an incredible array of commodities and supply chain variables.

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