NTUC FairPrice, Cheers launch unmanned store

Singapore has its first unmanned cashless convenience store, launched by NTUC FairPrice and the Cheers chain.

On the Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) campus, the unmanned store concept also serves as a training unit for the institution’s School of Business Management. It uses frontline retail technologies to empower customer self-service and backend systems to optimise business processes and boost productivity.

Its unified self-checkout system incorporates various cashless payment modes including Nets, credit card, EZ-Link, mobile and contactless payment, eliminating the need for multiple payment terminals. It is the first convenience store in Singapore to offer Nets payment by QR code.

Next-generation vending machines offer snacks or hot meals, with the ready-to-eat range including pastries and pizza as well as fried rice and hor fun.

Behind the scenes, the stores uses data and video analytics to customise its inventory to suit customer preferences. An auto-ordering system eliminates the need to track and order stocks while minimising out-of-stock situations.

Chance to upskill

Converting the Cheers store to the new format will save up to 180 man hours a week. This savings in manpower allows staff members to be redeployed and upskilled to focus on higher-value jobs such as supply-chain management, customer-relationship management, digital marketing and data analytics.

For NYP students specialising in retail, the store offers hands-on experience running a business as well as being a real-world testbed for innovation.

“We are moving our students up the value chain,” says principal/CEO Jeanne Liew. “They are gaining new skills and working with new technologies, such as data analytics and IoT.”

The store is fully run by the students, with more than 50 being chosen annually to work in groups throughout the year.

Singaporeans who wish to shop at the Cheers unmanned store first need to download the Shop It Yourself mobile app and use it to register. The app generates a QR code customers can use to gain entry to the store, which is locked automatically. Being tested by a sample group of NYP students, the app will be available soon at Android and Apple stores.

Cheers plans a second unmanned convenience store in Tampines in a month’s time.

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