Pick & Go’s third AI-powered store in Singapore

Date : 19 April 2021

Soo-Eng Tan

Senior Retail Analyst

We caught up with Alex Ng, the founder of Pick & Go in Singapore, to learn about the features of the third unmanned store and how it has evolved from learnings of the first two stores.

First store in Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)

Source: IGD Research

Pick & GO was founded on June 2019 with a vision to redefine convenience shopping. Shoppers can pick what they want from the shelves, leave the stores and automatically pay through their app without any additional touchpoints at any time of the day. Powered by A.I. technology that uses smart cameras to determine shopper gestures and location within the store, together with sensors from the smart shelves, customers can simply grab what they want and walk out to complete payment within the Pick & GO app. The flagship store was setup in SUTD on 1st October 2019. Alex shared that, “at that time, we wanted a proof of concept. We wanted to make sure that the technology works and create a store that makes the shopping experience seamless.” The results were encouraging and the feedback we received led us to open a second store.

Second store in Lakepoint condominium

Source: Pick & Go

The second store was opened in November 2020 to test the concept beyond students who are familiar with use of mobile apps. It serves  residents in the apartment, neighbouring condominiums and the general public. The store was launched with a refreshed app after learnings from the first store. Through data analytics, Pick & GO understands what products are popular, how to complement their offerings and the buying habits of the community. This helps suppliers and partners to manage their footprint and improve their sales. Most of the patrons were elderly and children. It was a great testing ground to understand the pick-up rate amongst the elderly who were surprisingly open to using the app. However, the location is a limiting factor. The current plans are to close the store due to low footfall.

Latest store in National University of Singapore

It is about 2,000 sq.ft., about three times the size of its flagship store and carries more than 2,000 products. Alex said, “during the Covid-19 pandemic, many local businesses were forced to operate digitally. It is easy to buy products online but for small local businesses, they need a physical space for shoppers to touch and feel their products. The store is designed to provide a mutli-sensorial experience for shoppers to engage their five senses”.

Working with a scent company

Source: IGD Research

Pick & Go works with Scent by SIX, a local artisanal fragrance label that creates tailor-made scents for homes, personal and commercial use. Research has shown that creating a comfortable environment with the right scent increases dwell time. In this store, shoppers will be greeted by a soft jasmine scent upon entry. The scent is intended to set the mood for a relaxing shopping experience. It is a subtle fragrance that melts into the background after a while.

Visual storytelling with LED screens

Source: IGD Research

All the screens used are made by local company Prism+. The content provides information about local brands and showcases their products. For example, Uglyfood is a company with an aim to eliminate food waste. They sell excess or ugly fruit and vegetables, as well as sustainably sourced food products. The stores will also use the screens to create games with opportunities for shoppers to win vouchers. This is another element to increase engagement within the store.

Customised background music and sounds

Source: IGD Research

One of the most unique features of the store is a series of sounds that are played as shoppers walk through the store. For example, when walking pass biscuits and snacks category, a subtle crunching sound will be played near the shelf. Similarly, a shopper will hear a can opening near the beverage fridge. This technology is being fine-tuned by USEA, a company with extensive experience in helping retailers create customised background music for their branding. It will also be adjusted to manage the crowd level in the store, with music that will increase the pace of shopping during peak hours.

Local products at the fore

Source: IGD Research

The retailer is committed to keep 30% of its shelf space for local brands.  There is no onboarding fee so the brands can dictate the margin. However, the brands must meet one of three criteria:

  • Be environmentally sustainable
  • Healthy food product
  • Promote health and wellness for non-food products

What do we think?

Alex has shared that there are three more stores in the pipeline this year and there will be something new at each store. We are excited to see the improvements made over time and the different technolgies used to create a more engaging shopping experience. By collaborating with different partners, Pick & Go has the opportunity to create a store that is future proof and stands out from its competitors.