Unmanned stores using biometrics, artificial intelligence to be tested at Singapore university campuses

Unmanned store concept adoption has increased in retail, as a growing number of convenience stores are to embrace the concept by the end of the year, Singapore retail companies Octobox, OMO Store and Pick & Go recently announced at the Singapore Retail Industry Conference and Exhibition, writes The Strait Times.

Deployments such as palm scanners will allow shoppers to enter the kiosk, RFID will keep track of items purchased and AI will monitor movement inside the kiosk. These features as well as smart cameras and smart shelves will be used in data analysis to improve shoppers’ journey and experience.

The retail industry in the area is struggling with a lack of employees and severe competition from online retailers, but also suffers from “downside risks and the many uncertainties around the world,” explained Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing at the event. With help and support in developing the concept from government agency Enterprise Singapore, Singapore retail companies hope to overcome the difficult times through innovation.

“They show the spirit of the sector, that even in difficult times, we are still constantly innovating and trying out new solutions,” said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

“That gives me confidence that this sector will be in good shape. If we just play defensive then even when the upturn comes, we will not be ready. When we play offensive even in tough times and constantly test out new ideas, we put ourselves in good stead.”

Even though they are not novelty, unmanned stores are just now growing in popularity. Octobox, OMO Store and Pick & Go are already using university campuses as testing ground for pilot automated stores. Among them is a 24/7 store opened in August at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) University Town, a second is to open in September at NUS’s School of Computing and a third in October at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Goode Intelligence forecasts that 2.6 billion people will use biometrics for payments by 2023.

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