How NTUC FairPrice’s consumer centric mindset became its golden goose


“FairPrice on Wheels” neighborhood initiative brings day by day necessities to mature estates with greater focus of low-income seniors.

When the Singapore authorities applied Dorscon Orange because of the unfold of COVID-19, it was a provide nightmare for retailers as Singaporeans scrambled to get necessities.

In a podcast interview by Retail Asia, FairPrice Group’s Chief Government Officer of Retail Enterprise Elaine Heng referred to as it a ‘baptism of fire’ during which they noticed not less than three rounds of panic shopping for in Singapore.

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It was the return of the egg dilemma of 2004, however this time the nation wasn’t simply dealing with an egg scarcity.


With the borders closed, it wasn’t scarcity of provides that was the issue. It was merely the results of the issue that’s getting the necessities from the supply to the cabinets.

As one of many largest grocery chains within the nation Heng mentioned that they had to determine the right way to get the products from the warehouse quick sufficient.

“We had to reconfigure our supply chain, we had to reconfigure new warehouses. In fact, some of our warehouses were set up in five days. We had to use stores as a hub and spoke to ensure that we alleviate the tension points from our whole supply chain, and we use our bigger stores to send out and dispatch to the smaller stores.”

Provide resiliency

This disruption in provide wasn’t a primary for Singapore. Again in 2004, the federal government positioned a ban on eggs from Malaysia as a consequence of an outbreak of avian flu, which at the moment Singapore imported 73% of its eggs from. Eggs costs at the moment skyrocketed to as a lot as thrice the price.

Provide resiliency is a crucial concern for a rustic equivalent to Singapore who imports 90% of its meals and makes use of solely about 1% of its land sources for agriculture.

Heng mentioned that 90% is essential to Singapore particularly as Singapore is a small nation. She agreed that the nation requires resilience, particularly when it comes to meals. And to make sure that, she mentioned they’ve been working with the federal government to minimise disruption to the availability chain.

“The whole diversification strategy that we have put in place has actually paid off during this time. And the whole effort supporting locals has been amplified as well, very much aligned with the government’s 2030 plan that we should have 30% of our food produced locally by 2030. So we work very closely with the government. Our teams have been very agile in terms of ensuring that we source from different countries and ensuring that even when borders are closed, we have the food sources coming to Singapore,” Heng mentioned.

For its half, NTUC FairPrice applied a number of multi-pronged methods. When flights have been cancelled they usually couldn’t use freights, they introduced necessities by land.

“As an example, we have contract farms in Chiang Mai. And what we did was to transport the produce by road via a relay team from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. And then from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur to Johor Bahru, and Johor Bahru to Singapore. This forms a relay team where the drivers switch but the truck continues was one of the strategies that we have actually deployed during the circuit breaker period.”

This wasn’t the primary time NTUC FairPrice stepped up throughout a disaster.

Throughout the egg disaster of ‘04, the corporate was the primary to usher in eggs from Australia and New Zealand to the nation.

At this time, additionally they labored intently with the federal government to ensure eggs, amongst different important items, would all the time be obtainable to shoppers.

Improvements proceed

Earlier than the pandemic, FairPrice had been experimenting with a frontline retail expertise that enables clients to course of their very own transactions. It was the delivery of the very first unmanned and cashless Cheers retailer again in 2017 at Nanyang Polytechnic.

In December final yr, NTUC FairPrice opened a brand new one in Our Tampines Hub that was based mostly on the success of the primary model.

This ‘walk out’ expertise idea retailer removes the necessity for lengthy queues and is as simple as downloading an app in your smartphone.

However with an unmanned retailer, will pilferage go up? Heng mentioned for the reason that institution, the numbers of pilferage have been very low, decrease than their expectations.

Buyer centricity

NTUC FairPrice doesn’t simply dish out these improvements in all places. In accordance with Heng, it is actually concerning the wants of the shopper, the placement, what precisely are the personas and the profiles and the buying missions of shoppers.

They construct the idea of those shops that may match with the aim and clients in thoughts.

“So as it stands now, there are plans right for us to look at more versions, but it is also a whole journey, as we look at the different formats of where we will actually grow,” Heng mentioned. “Every store that we build has to be pivoted on the customer’s profile, the needs of the customer. What are the shopping missions? How do we create stores and experience?”

One such retailer they tailor-made for its clients and areas is the one at Parkway Parade. Heng mentioned they seemed on the current traits and acknowledged that their clients are getting extra aware about their well being so that they put in a kiosk the place clients can take a fast take a look at the state of their well being with on-site specialists.

In Parkway, they designed a cocktail bar proper subsequent to a youngsters’ sustainability zone the place they make arts and crafts and play. Heng mentioned that she was skeptical at first, however the crew defined that they seen there have been a variety of younger households. Dad and mom got here to loosen up and have a drink while their youngsters had enjoyable enjoying and making arts and crafts.

“And I was like, okay, but what happens if single customers, without kids and all. Will they actually come as well? Because then it might be too noisy? But I was proven wrong by the team,” Heng mentioned.

NTUC FairPrice has all the time come again to 1 factor: buyer centricity.

“It’s back to the point about customer centricity and really putting customers in the center of all that we do. When we look at the different customer demographics and profiles in this zone, we feel that there is actually a gap. And you know, we did not let the size of the store stop us from actually doing something. And therefore, this is how we innovate and stay relevant,” Heng commented.

Retail future

The omni-channel technique often is the proper one however Heng believes that even with the increase digitalisation has been experiencing because of the pandemic, buying will nonetheless be based mostly on buying missions and making shops as locations.

Heng thinks there shall be occasions when shoppers would simply wish to click on a button and have their merchandise delivered. Different occasions they’d wish to go to the shop and decide their very own merchandise. They’d wish to work together with the staff that assist them discover what’s in season, what they will prepare dinner with what substances.

“We still believe that there is a role for stores and there’s also a role for online. And I think the in between space would be the unmanned stores that we have launched like the Cheers stores where you can use scan and go and actually skip queues,” Heng added.

Heng believes that there isn’t a one-size matches all method to buying as clients proceed to vary what they need and what they want.

Elements equivalent to retailer location, the kind of shoppers that go to these shops and much more can have an effect on client behaviour.

“I think it really depends on the needs and the reason why people come to the store. There’s different strokes for different folks and we shouldn’t be looking at customers in a one size fits all approach,” Heng mentioned.

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