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Singapore Grocery Store Launches Unmanned, Cashless C-store

Cheers is a fully automatic concept store in which customers scan and pay via a mobile app.
August 1, 2017

​SINGAPORE – On Friday, NTUC FairPrice, a Singapore grocery store chain, opened Cheers, a cashless, unmanned convenience store on the campus of Nanyang Polytechnic, Today Online reports. In June, Wheely’s in China launched a mobile, unmanned convenience store that drives to the customer.

Cheers customers must download a mobile app, then register to receive a QR code prior to entering the store. The QR code enables checkout and payment for items. Cheers also will train students in Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Business Management.

Open 12 hours a day Monday through Friday, Cheers is being hailed as the “convenience store of the future,” by S. Iswaran, the country’s minister for trade and industry. “Cheers is raising the bar for what it means to be a convenience store of the future, positioned at the intersection of technology and brick-and-mortar businesses.”

The store has vending machines that dispense newspapers and magazines, plus an array of ready-to-eat meals such as pizza, pastries, fried rice and “hor fun,” a local dish. Shoppers select their items, then checkout via a cashless payment method: NETS, EZ-Link, credit card, mobile or contactless payment on a single payment terminal.

“To stay competitive and relevant, a key approach is to provide value-added services that cater to the needs and convenience of customers … It is a step towards offering a differential and innovative retail concept. Besides challenging industry norms, it also aims to cultivate a self-service culture,” said Seah Kian Peng, CEO of NTUC FairPrice.

Cheers uses data and video analytics (captured on CCTV systems) to customize the store’s inventory and to see purchasing behavior. An auto-ordering system keeps popular items stocked. The company has plans for another unmanned Cheers location in Tampines by the end of the summer. Cheers will also redesign its Esso gas station stores to improve service and to add ready-to-eat meals, with all 62 locations slated to be revamped by the end of 2018.

NACS Convenience Summit Asia will be in Hong Kong on March 12-15, 2018. Stay tuned for more information.