Singaporean retail co-op opens unmanned convenience store

The store uses an advanced artificial intelligence (AI) system that tracks customers’ actions

Singapore’s NTUC FairPrice Co-operative opened its third unmanned convenience store on 12 December 2020.

For the store, NTUC partnered up with Visa to develop an advanced artificial intelligence (AI) system that tracks customers’ actions, such as removing items from shelves.

The new store it based at Our Tampines Hub in Tampines and operated under NTUC’s Cheers franchise.

Customers need to download the Cheers SG App and add their payment details before going into the store. To enter the store, they can scan a QR code or use facial recognition technology as a means of identification. Once inside they can then take any item they need and walk out. The payment is automatically deducted through the Cheers SG App upon exit.

The 24-hour store currently employs several staff members just to guide customers through the shopping process but will to be completely unmanned in the coming weeks.

“Today, consumers want shopping experiences that are fast and seamless but also safe and secure,” said Kunal Chatterjee, Visa Country manager for Singapore and Brunei. “Zero checkout technology is an innovative way of delivering that intuitive retail experience to shoppers, offering convenience without sacrificing security.

“This is the first time that Visa is partnering with our retail merchant partner to create this concept of kind in Southeast Asia, and we want to help our merchants power the future of retail and create innovative retail experiences so that consumers and businesses can pay and be paid effortlessl

NTUC runs two other unmanned stores at Nanyang Polytechnic and the National University of Singapore (NUS). Other Singaporean vendors have launched similar initiatives in recent years. The concept is aligned with Singapore’s Smart Nation Initiative, which aims to transform and digitise the country’s economy.