Despite the robots and smart software, Ocado still relies on thousands of people to pack boxes, load trucks and then deliver the food. While this provides jobs, having a thousand-plus people focused on rote tasks comes with its own issues. In the warehousing industry, packers sometimes burn out and look for better-paying work. They make mistakes, putting items in the wrong boxes. And they get hurt doing hard manual labor.
Ocado is already looking to automate other parts of the fulfillment process. It’s experimenting with autonomous vehicles to make curbside drop-offs. Drones are another possibility.