In the industrial neighborhood of Pasir Panjang in Singapore, the future of retail shopping arrived in late October. App- and web-based delivery service Honestbee — which has been localized for Asian cities including Taipei and Manila — opened Habitat, a world-first, new-generation retail concept that’s a “tech-integrated, multi-sensory grocery and dining destination”. That’s a mouthful, but stay with us on this. The 5,575m2 retail space combines the brand’s online and offline services, offering cashless grocery shopping and restaurant dining, in a compound that’s equally a platform for test-driving and refining new retail tech.
“Habitat has been designed to allow customers to get their groceries and meals efficiently, and also to encourage them to linger and enjoy the experience — it’s an innovative space that helps nourish the body and inspires visitors,” says vice president and managing director Pauline Png.
The immersive, high-tech shopping and dining experience features a selection of 20,000 supermarket products (including fresh produce from across the globe) and an array of F&B vendors, offering everything from fresh grain bowls to homemade kombucha. There are also lifestyle sections — think reading nooks (pictured below), cosmetics and fashion counters — for the multitasking shopper. The next-gen process is rounded out with a Scan & Go function (available via the mobile app; for 10 items or less) and an automated checkout point and robotics-enabled collection station (that scans and packs trolleys of goods) — all to remove queuing from the equation.
Habitat also encourages patrons to pay via BeePay on the Honestbee app, all in the hopes that you no longer have to deep-dive into your bag for loose change, and that the process between checkout and collection take all of five minutes or less. The whole enterprise could change the way we shop — online and offline — for everyday needs. It’s still early days (and you’re reading it here first) but we might just be witnessing its brand of new-gen retail take off across Asia and the rest of the world.
More treats to look out for at Habitat:
- Poofy for the fluffiest Japanese soufflé pancakes
- Mr Bubbles for bubble-tea-meets-Calpis cultured milk concoctions
- Milk Made for classic shakes
- White Moustache for local craft beer
- Lazy Loaf for loaves made with Asia-sourced flours and spreads
- Butchery for top cuts of meat, including snow-aged ones from Niigata, Japan
- Oyster Bar for fresh oysters, what else?
This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Smile magazine.