No staff, no cash payments at Cheers' high-tech outlet

Cheers' first unmanned and cashless concept store at Nanyang Polytechnic uses retail technologies such as vending machines that track stock levels and self-checkout counters. Customers enter the shop using a QR code generated by a mobile app. The out
Cheers' first unmanned and cashless concept store at Nanyang Polytechnic uses retail technologies such as vending machines that track stock levels and self-checkout counters. Customers enter the shop using a QR code generated by a mobile app. The outlet is managed by poly students.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

The Cheers outlet at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) looks like any other normal convenience store - with shelves and fridges stocked with food and drinks - except there is no cashier or assistant in sight.

The outlet, which is fully managed by NYP students, is fitted with at least 10 closed-circuit cameras. Customers use a QR code generated by the free "Shop It Yourself" mobile app to gain entry to the store. The doors lock automatically after entry.

The store has a unified self-checkout system that accepts various cashless payment modes, eliminating the need for multiple payment terminals. Customers can pay using Nets, credit card, ez-link card, mobile and contactless payment.

There are three vending machines dispensing ready-to-eat foods ranging from pastries and pizza to fried rice and hor fun.

At the back end, a system tracks stock levels and automatically places orders when stocks are low.

This unmanned format saves Cheers 180 man hours per week.

At the launch of the store yesterday, Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said the move by Cheers "is raising the bar for what it means to be a convenience store of the future". It also "affirms that our local companies... are more than equal to the task to remain relevant and competitive", he said.

This is especially the case when local retailers are now up against the likes of Amazon Prime Now, launched earlier this week, which uses artificial intelligence technology and offers near real-time delivery of goods, he said.

Mr Seah Kian Peng, chief executive of NTUC FairPrice, which runs Cheers, said: "Besides challenging industry norms, this store also aims to cultivate a self-service culture in Singapore." Cheers plans to pilot another such outlet in Tampines by the end of next month.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2017, with the headline 'No staff, no cash payments at Cheers' high-tech outlet'. Print Edition | Subscribe