Robot deliveries, unmanned 7-Eleven store at retail innovation hub, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Robot deliveries, unmanned 7-Eleven store at retail innovation hub

Workers in South Beach’s office tower can now get purchases such as ready-to-eat meals, drinks and snacks from a nearby 7-Eleven store delivered directly to them by a robot.

The fleet of seven robots by home-grown start-up QuikBot Technologies can navigate the maze of lifts, walkways and office gantries autonomously, and even hand items over to one another along the way. Orders are placed through the QuikBot app.

Bot delivery is part of a host of concepts now in operation under Hive 2.0, a high-tech retail innovation hub at Esplanade Xchange. The air-conditioned underground retail strip linked to Esplanade MRT station is operated by SMRT’s business arm Stellar Lifestyle.

The 297 sq m hub comprises 10 unique retail experiences by start-ups focusing on automation, robotics and digital retail services. It was launched on Jan 22 by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling.

One concept is 7-Eleven Shop & Go, the convenience store chain’s first unmanned and cashier-free store in Singapore where customers can tap into a gantry to pre-authorise their credit cards, pick items off the shelves, and exit. 

Their credit cards are charged accordingly, and a QR code can be scanned to get an itemised receipt.

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology and smart cameras track and detect customers’ shopping behaviour in the store, which can currently hold up to five people at a time.

Other featured concepts include Mr.R Robotics, an adaptive robotics retail store where frozen, chilled and ambient products are picked up by a robotic arm once selected, as well as Le Tach Vending, a vending machine operator that stocks products like herbal teas, bak kwa and fresh fruit.

Ms Low noted that tools utilised by these busineses, such as AI, can help alleviate issues like the manpower crunch. “These innovations can help lower operational costs, boost sales and address manpower and logistics challenges often faced by retailers,” she said.

QuikBot founder and chief executive Alan Ng said the firm aims to serve 400 buildings in the next four years, servicing about 1.2 million professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

“Singapore is a stepping stone,” he added. “We are a smart city solution, so we are establishing our presence in cities like Dubai in the next three months, and then moving to Tokyo and Seoul.”