Retail as we know it needs to innovate, for today’s consumers exist in both online and offline spaces. While “new retail” has started the digitisation of the shopping experience and the online-to-offline connection, the design and execution have both tended to be more focused on optimising transactional relationships, rather than creating meaningful customer experiences.
“NewGen Retail” is our take on how this new breed of shopping should be. While brainstorming about habitat by honestbee, we took inspiration from food and our passion for technology in order to create an experience that takes our customers on a journey of discovery.
Food requires a multi-sensorial environment that is able to evoke the five senses. But the experience of traditional grocery retail is hindered by inconveniences such as the hassle of queuing, waiting and having to pay for purchases with cash. Technology can be used to remove unnecessary effort, so visitors can focus their energy on creating memories with their family and friends. In this way, human interaction remains at the forefront of the experience.
NewGen Retail also creates an integrated environment that engages both online and offline. For instance, at habitat, visitors can choose to purchase Asian and global flavours, ingredients and essentials either directly at the location or via the honestbee app. They can choose from a selection of concepts – from freshly baked bread and grain bowls to Japanese soufflé pancakes and homemade kombucha. They can shop what they eat, and eat what they shop. In that way, we also want to give them access to deeper knowledge about the provenance, preparation and stories behind their food, which is something harder to do through an online food delivery service.
How does technology assist exactly? Customers at habitat use the app to either scan the items they want or check out at the AutoCheckout. The items then get loaded on the conveyor belt and go through a state-of-the-art scanner with cameras used to identify and scan the barcodes on the items.
The response to habitat has been overwhelming so far, as this sort of integrated, tech-enabled and human-centered experience is one that not many other grocery retailers in Asia have adopted.
Indeed, in time, by harnessing technology, data-fuelled operations and a strong network of partners, food experiences can be made accessible to all via concepts that delight.
This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine