Revamped Funan to open by Q2 of 2019

Funan, now being revamped, is set to be the first mall here to use facial scanning to aid shoppers, says its owner CapitaLand Mall Trust.
Funan, now being revamped, is set to be the first mall here to use facial scanning to aid shoppers, says its owner CapitaLand Mall Trust.ST PHOTO: SYAZA NISRINA

Shoppers can scan their faces for shop picks, scan phones to collect items bought online

The revamped Funan mall and office complex will open months ahead of schedule by the second quarter of next year and use facial recognition technology to offer shoppers recommendations.

The launch of its co-living serviced residence component lyf Funan, managed by The Ascott, will also be brought forward, from 2020 to the fourth quarter of next year. These were announced by owner CapitaLand Mall Trust yesterday at a ceremony to mark the structural completion of the mall in North Bridge Road.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said at the event that the new Funan mall will be Singapore's first "online and offline mall", powered by sensors, data analytics and facial recognition tools to better understand consumer shopping habits.

It will be the first mall here to use technology such as a smart directory that uses facial recognition to provide shoppers with customised recommendations, said CapitaLand.

The mall will have a touch screen directory, equipped with a camera, that can scan the faces of shoppers to sort them into general profiles such as young female and senior male, and recommend stores that target that demographic.

The facial recognition function of the directory, which will also be rolled out to other CapitaLand malls, does not capture or store personal data, CapitaLand Retail's chief executive Wilson Tan told The Straits Times yesterday.

Shoppers can also collect items purchased online at a 24-hour drive-through by flashing a QR code on their phones in front of a scanner for a robotic arm to retrieve the items for them.

The new six-storey Funan mall will utilise video analytics to study shopper traffic and crowd density, which will help CapitaLand to adjust tenant mix and placement.

Shoppers will be able to search for their cars in the carpark by using a video system that can scan licence plates. They can also collect items purchased online at a 24-hour drive-through by flashing a QR code on their phones in front of a scanner for a robotic arm to retrieve the items for them.

The former Funan DigitaLife Mall, which closed in July 2016 and was originally scheduled to reopen by the third quarter of next year, has been undergoing a $560 million transformation into an integrated development centred on lifestyle, technology and the arts.

About 70 per cent of Funan's retail space has been leased to tenants such as Golden Village, FairPrice Finest and theatre company Wild Rice. New tenants announced yesterday include foldable bike brand Brompton Bicycle, which will be opening its flagship Singapore store, a farm-to-table restaurant concept by Spa Esprit Group and gaming store GamePro, which will host e-gaming tournaments in a dedicated eSports zone in the mall.

Elaborating on the use of facial recognition technology, Mr Tan said CapitaStar loyalty programme members may in the future opt to have their faces scanned to receive personal recommendations based on their purchase history.

"The idea is that a retailer has a digital screen or wall that can recognise I am a CapitaStar member and have been a previous customer of that store, and the screen will be customised for me," said Mr Tan. Other plans for the CapitaStar programme, which has about 920,000 members, include having data captured from receipts provided to members as insights into their spending patterns, he said.

Mr Tan added that facial recognition technology may also be used for entry at Funan's office complex as well as lyf Funan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2018, with the headline 'Revamped Funan to open by Q2 of 2019'. Print Edition | Subscribe