Positioned in a complex immediately outside a station exit and near to offices in the centre of Singapore, Cold Storage has the benefit of a strong flow of footfall, particularly during peak times of the day. 

But the footfall is made up of busy people, with little time to spare, so the store has to make sure shopping is simple and hassle-free.

“Our target market here is the local office worker, so they won’t be doing a big shop, they’ll just have a basket of food,” says supermarket manager Leonel Letada.

The focus on this demographic is evident throughout the store. There’s a ready-to-eat section, including self-service salad and a range of meal options, as well as a nuts and seeds fixture that customers can weigh out themselves. Healthy alternatives are offered in many of these areas to meet customer demand. 

The shop is also the only supermarket in the chain that only has self-checkouts. You won’t see cashiers standing behind checkouts, Leonel says, but they are there to assist customers, when needed, for products like tobacco and alcohol.

“During lunchtime it’s pretty packed. But it makes it efficient for customers and there’s less reliance on team members,” he adds.

In Singapore, technology is increasingly replacing people in retail, in part due to a government rule that there should be 15 Singaporeans employed for every 10 guests of the country employed. This will rise to a ratio of 16 to 10 next year. 

The full self-checkout concept was launched in the store, although it has now rolled out to other shops in the 48-strong Cold Storage chain. 

While there’s a big focus on fresh food in the store, areas such as news and magazines aren’t forgotten about – but they have been upgraded to a technology-driven option over the traditional newsstand. The shop sells a handful of newspapers, but has no physical copies of magazines. 

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“We partnered with a company called Singtel to offer digital downloads of magazines,” Leonel explains. “Customers can sign up to browse and download the magazine of their choosing.” 

Technology is a focus throughout the store – a strategy that drives shoppers in and takes pressure off staffing. 

Before shoppers even enter the store, there’s a large LCD stretch TV, which is exclusive to the shop. It plays animated visuals that entice customers in. 

Elsewhere, the shop is kitted out in digital pricing labels, which staff can change via their mobile phones. “They scan the barcode on an app and can change the ticketing. It’s a more convenient system for our team members,” Leonel explains. 

“The app also shows the layout and planograms of different areas of the shop, so they can restock products quickly and easily.” 

The third-party app they use on the shop floor integrates with the back office and also ties in with the store’s click-and-collect service.

Over on the deli counter, staff are assisted by ‘touch labels’. If someone wants to buy something from the deli, the member of staff just needs to touch the label and the product registers on the scales. Leonel says it’s an effective way to eliminate errors made by staff. 

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A unique draw for customers that the shop has is its two meeting rooms – a luxury afforded by the size of the store. 

Customers simply use their phone to scan a large QR code on the meeting room window, which takes them through to a booking microsite. Both rooms are equipped with free Wi-Fi, making them great meeting spots.

“We have approximately 10 bookings a week,” Leonel says. “One room is more casual, while the other is a small boardroom. 

“People use the rooms to have a drink with colleagues or hold lunch meetings, and they order food from the store for the meetings.” 

In between each of the rooms is a wine bar, which sells wine by the glass as well as by the bottle. As well as working well with the shoppers using the meeting rooms, it encourages customers to come in after work to wind down.

“It makes the store a destination, not just a supermarket,” adds Leonel.


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