44. Unmanned Convenience

Photo: Cheers launched its fourth unmanned store in Our Tampines Hub in 2020. Source: Cheers

Grabbing items and walking straight out of the store? To many, that is plain stealing. But with Cheers’ unmanned stores, that is just a part of the shopping experience.

First opened in Nanyang Polytechnic in 2017, the store ran without any staff. All customers had to do was download a mobile app and enter the stores using the unique QR code generated.

Once they had selected their items, they could pay via cashless options like NETS, credit card, EZ-Link and mobile payment. The outlet was also the first convenience store in Singapore to accept NETS payment by QR code.

After opening two similar stores in the National University of Singapore, Cheers unveiled its fourth in Our Tampines Hub in 2020 that was souped up with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

Shoppers first download the Cheers mobile app and select their desired payment method before using the unique QR code generated or facial recognition feature to enter the store.

Instead of making payments manually, patrons can walk right out after picking their items. The AI detects the items each customer is purchasing and automatically processes the payment as they exit.

No queue. No checkout. Just walk out.

Since its humble beginnings in a corner of Toa Payoh, NTUC FairPrice has become the quintessential Singaporean supermarket. The leap from a single store to a grocery giant is a tale of retail reinvention – a half-century journey that saw the cooperative confront crises and challenges, revamps and even robbers.

As it expanded and evolved, FairPrice never wavered from its core mission: to moderate the cost of living for consumers. It Takes a Great Deal - A Catalogue of FairPrice Group Stories encapsulates the birth of the consumer cooperative in 1973 and its transformation into a $4 billion food enterprise that is now called FairPrice Group.

Through 50 remarkable stories, we celebrate the people, products and places that mark significant milestones for the food retailer over the last five decades, charting its growth and successes in the past, present and into the future.