“The grocery retail industry in Singapore has been experiencing significant disruption due to changing consumer behaviour and increased competition from both traditional brick-and-mortar and e-commerce,” NTUC FairPrice Managing Director, Digital and Technology Johnny Wong told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“We see our online retail as complementary to our brick and mortar business, where we are able to leverage both platforms to ultimately achieve a seamless omni-channel experience for our customers.”
He cited the example of leveraging the chain’s 200+ brick-and-mortar stores in Singapore to fulfil online orders (currently only available in selected regions), which allowed for significantly shorter delivery time.
“This is especially pertinent for fresh food where temperature control during delivery poses the most challenges. Since we deliver fresh vegetables and meats from our own physical stores, the fresh quality provided is ‘store display’ quality,” he added.
“This concept also allows customers to enjoy same day delivery, receiving their orders as quickly as under four hours.”
FairPrice has also just piloted its first fully omnichannel initiative, Scan-and-Go, in its centrally-located Funan outlet. Customers can pick products in-store, scan and pay all with their mobile devices, skipping the checkout queue.
“It uses the same user and payment information as our online app, and thus saves time for users on entering this information, who can also immediately can benefit from all store promotions and discounts,” said Wong.
The company’s revamped e-commerce grocery platform, FairPrice On, was formally launched last year, along with its online fulfilment system AutoStore. FairPrice On caters to over 400,000 users nationwide, with over 60% of transactions are made through smart phones.
Autostore used in FairPrice’s distribution centre at the west end of the island, and is an automated goods-to-man storage and retrieval system that utilises robotics and a computerised system to provide high-density storage, optimise manpower and boost productivity
“AutoStore is able to handle up to 3,000 orders per day and is four times faster compared to Radio Frequency (RF)-assisted picking, with the ability to fulfil 220 order-lines per hour,” said Wong.
Other FairPrice initiatives in terms of digitising its operations included ‘steadily increasing’ the range of products offered online, and redesigning its web portal and mobile app to provide a ‘more intuitive’ user interface.
“Online retail offers many benefits versus traditional retail such as convenient home delivery and access to more products that cannot be stocked in physical stores due to space constraints,” said Wong.
“Furthermore, the shopping experience can be more efficient as the payment and delivery information is already saved, and the online platform learns from past purchases and browsing behaviours to offer more relevant product options.”
Customer experience and simplifying their supply chains via vertical integration are two of the main areas that FairPrice is looking at focusing on moving forward.
“We will continue to focus on improving the customer experience across all touchpoints in their shopping journey (inclusive of delivery and customer service),” said Wong.
“We are also looking at vertically integrating our food supply chain to allow more food quality and provenance oversight, so as to deliver more end-to-end to our customers.”
“Suppliers will also benefit from this as they will be ‘closer to the end consumer’ to know their demands and preferences, thus better preparing their operations.”