Convenience store Cheers has just opened a new and completely unmanned outlet at Our Tampines Hub last Saturday (Dec 12).
At the Cheers store, customers can just walk in, grab the items they need and walk out without having to take out their phones, credit cards or cash to make payment.
However, before entering the store for the first time, customers have to download the Cheers SG app and add their Visa account as the mode of payment.
They can then use the facial recognition technology in the app or scan a unique QR code to enter the store.
Without entering a mode of payment, customers will not be able to enter the store.
The app will automatically record the items that customers pick up, and add it to a virtual shopping cart. Payment for the items will be charged to their Visa cards as they walk out of the store.
The store’s ceiling is also dotted with cameras that track human behaviour with Artificial Intelligence to detect any theft.
Not The First Unmanned Store Here
The AI-enabled Cheers outlet in Our Tampines Hub is the first to use the an advanced AI system and incorporate the usage of a mobile app.
To get customers used to the technology involved, a staff member will be present to guide customers over the next three months, before it becomes fully unmanned.
However, this high-tech store is not the only unmanned store in Singapore.
The first unmanned and cashless concept store was opened in Nanyang Polytechnic in 2017. Subsequently, two more popped up at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Octobox opened its first 24/7 automated store at NUS last year, together with OMO Store, an initiative by Umart, which opened at NUS’s School of Computing.
Will We Start Seeing More Unmanned Stores In Singapore?
Though the concept has made waves in other countries such as China since late 2016, the concept failed to take off, resulting in many closures and bankruptcies in the industry.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has revived the popularity of such unmanned stores.
The ability of these stores to run autonomously is especially appealing because of the need to minimise human interaction due to the pandemic.
Furthermore, the technology involved also makes tedious processes such as inventory checking easier.
The big data collected by the shops’ AI systems are also very valuable for shop owners.
Businesses are able to detect exactly which items are popular, what and how much to restock, and which spaces on the shelves attract the most attention.
Besides, Singaporean consumers are also becoming more comfortable with the heavy usage of technology, which was in part sped up by the pandemic.
To add on, the Singaporean government has long been promoting the growth of Singapore as a Smart Nation, and harnessing technology to stay ahead as a global city.
Thus, it is likely that we will witness more of these stores popping up across the nation.
Featured Image Credit: Our Tampines Hub