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Singapore’s retailers venture into unmanned stores

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Singapore’s retail industry is undergoing some technology changes, with a wider spread of unmanned stores developing within the scene.

The new wave of technology innovations for upgrading customer experiences was displayed at the Singapore Retail Industry Conference and Exhibition 2019 on 17 August 2019.

The event saw three local retailers display the incorporation of technology in their services: radio-frequency identification (RFID), cashless payments and artificial intelligence (AI).

These innovations were supported by Enterprise Singapore.

Retailers Pick & Go, Octobox and OMO Store each have their own versions of unmanned stores.

Biometric palm scanner

Customers will have to create an account with Octobox and register a palm scan. Upon registering, they will have to scan their hand on the biometric palm scammer located at the entrance of the store, every time they wish to enter.

Upon completing the selection of items for purchase, customers will bring all their selected items to the checkout room where the RFID tags on the items which will be automatically scanned.

They will proceed on to pay by scanning their palm to use DBS PayLah and keying in the last four digits of their mobile number for authentication purposes.

QR code

After setting up and account with OMO Store, customers will have to scan the QR code using the company’s mobile app for entering the store.

After having chosen their items, they will bring them to the checkout kiosk where the RFID tags of the items will be automatically scanned.

Payment will be made using cashless options such as credit card, Nets and GrabPay.

QRcode/ facial recognition

Customers will have to set up an account with Pick & Go. Like OMO Store, they will have to scan a QR code with Pick & Go’s, mobile app to enter the store.

Alternatively, facial recognition can be used for authorised customers. They will have to submit pictures of themselves via the app to use this method.

Customers can conveniently leave the store after selecting their items as they will be automatically charged to their accounts. Payment options include Mastercard and Visa.

The appliance of these technologies allows for the automation of inventory management, cashiering, and cash counting, as said by these retail outlets. They will enjoy an increase in productivity by about 50 per cent.

Intelligent analytics will be employed for studying shopper’s habits. Retailers can use this information for redesigning the variety of products, displays and layouts.

Mr Alan Yeo, director of the retail and design division at Enterprise Singapore said that unmanned stores serve a new experience for customers and increase efficiency as there is not much manpower needed for mending the outlets.

He mentioned that while convenience store operators are the current leaders in the unmanned store format, he believes that more retailers will soon hop onto the bandwagon and adopt the format for their outlets.

Analysts have said that retailers who have proven successful in the use of unmanned stores will have to set examples and guide the way for other retailers to follow.


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