'Smart' post offices to be delivered to newer estates

ST VIDEO: TIFFANY FUMIKO TAY
The self-service area of the General Post Office in the redeveloped SingPost Centre in Paya Lebar, which was officially launched yesterday. The self-service area is accessible at all hours and has POPStation lockers, upgraded SAM machines and a self-
The self-service area of the General Post Office in the redeveloped SingPost Centre in Paya Lebar, which was officially launched yesterday. The self-service area is accessible at all hours and has POPStation lockers, upgraded SAM machines and a self-drop box for registered articles.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Subject to approval, unmanned offices will be rolled out gradually in areas like Punggol, Sengkang

Plans are afoot for unmanned "smart" post offices to be rolled out in estates with young families, such as Punggol and Sengkang, in the next one to two years.

This is subject to regulatory approval, and would be introduced gradually so that people can get used to them, SingPost head of post office network and digital services Bernard Leong told The Straits Times yesterday.

To start with, SingPost's first smart post office, with a dedicated self-service area alongside staffed counters at the redeveloped SingPost Centre in Paya Lebar, was officially launched yesterday.

Located next to Paya Lebar MRT station, the centre houses a shopping mall, the country's largest post office and SingPost's flagship Philatelic Store.

The 5,328 sq ft General Post Office's self-service area - which is accessible at all hours - features POPStation lockers, upgraded SAM machines offering remittance and other postal services, and a self-drop box for registered articles.

The new drop box allows customers to skip the queue by weighing their parcels and printing labels at a SAM machine before depositing them, said Dr Leong.

SingPost group chief executive Paul Coutts said the roll-out of smart post offices is one of the ways the company is digitising its postal and logistics business.

It is also working with CapitaLand and e-commerce platform Lazada to finalise details for a click-and-collect service at the mall, allowing shoppers to collect or return their online purchases at a dedicated lounge, he said.

The five-storey mall, managed by CapitaLand, has 130 tenants, including Golden Village, FairPrice, a Kopitiam foodcourt and a rock-climbing gym.

Bubble tea chain Gong Cha will mark its return to Singapore later this year with its flagship outlet in the mall, and other new food and beverage concepts include a food hall designed to look like the old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, and Taiwanese hotpot chain Upot.

FairPrice's new 22,000 sq ft supermarket in the building is testing several fresh initiatives, including a FairPrice@SingPost mobile app that allows customers to check stock availability and locate products with in-store navigation.

The app, available for download on Apple and Android devices, also gathers data on shopping habits to deliver user-specific promotions.

The store also has the Scan2Go system currently in use at its Bukit Timah Plaza outlet, where customers can scan purchases with a handheld device as they shop and pay at self-checkout counters.

It is also the first supermarket to feature self-checkout kiosks that can be converted to cashier-assisted counters in less than a minute, to accommodate crowd sizes.

Refrigerated lockers are another new feature of this SingPost Centre outlet, allowing customers to pick up online purchases themselves, while an "experiential corner" in the store will allow brands to engage customers using augmented and virtual reality, digital games and interactive booths.

At the launch yesterday, FairPrice chief executive Seah Kian Peng said: "This technology-driven supermarket will serve as a 'living lab' to pilot new and innovative retail technologies, designed to revolutionise the grocery shopping experience."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2017, with the headline ''Smart' post offices to be delivered to newer estates'. Print Edition | Subscribe