Robots, students in charge at Singapore’s first unmanned mart
NANYANG POLYTECHNIC (NYP) in Singapore will be home to the very first cashless convenience store, called “Cheers”, which opens today, reports Channel News Asia.
The first-of-its-kind store will give customers the ability to process their own purchases using a variety of payment services, including credit or debit cards, NETS payments, EZ-link, as well as mobile and contactless options. According to a statement from Cheers’ parent company, NTUC FairPrice, NETS payments can be made through QR codes.
The store is taking an incredibly high-tech approach to challenging the basics of retail – by implementing analytics, robotics and digital frameworks in place of human staff. Customers will be able to select from a range of ready-to-eat meals which can be bought from vending machines. Data and video analytics will study shoppers’ behavior and preferences in order to make accurate decisions when replenishing stock. Inventory will also be automatically tracked and replenished using automated software to order stock.
There will be no cashiers unlike traditional stores. This means this store will be able to save up to 180 man-hours a week, while also almost entirely cutting out labor costs.
“The savings in manpower will allow staff to be redeployed and up-skilled to focus on higher-value jobs,” Cheers and FairPrice said. FairPrice CEO Seah Kian Peng, told CNA the total concept of the store aims to challenge how we traditionally think about retail and is an example of the vision for shopping in the digital age.
The store was designed with the student audience in mind, with food offerings ranging from the local – hor fun and fried rice – to international selections such as pizza and pastries. The store will also cater to the needs of NYP’s School of Business by giving students hands-on experience of running a business, as well as giving them a kind of playground to test out new ideas or innovate using in-store tech.
More than 50 students will run the store every year, marking the only human staff around, and will work in batches.
Cheers said they would be launching a second unmanned store in Tampines at the end of August.