Shorter check-out times at Cold Storage with smart shopping technologies
SINGAPORE: Supermarket chain Cold Storage has rolled out several solutions to improve efficiency and raise productivity - including self-checkout counters and an automated system that dispenses change.
The self-checkout counters are the first in Singapore to accept both cash and credit payment. It is estimated that these counters will help shorten lines at traditional cashier counters and could cut queueing time for customers by 20 to 30 per cent.
An automated cash management system can also help cashiers improve efficiency when payment is made. The cash is inserted into machines which calculate the change needed and automatically dispenses it. This can help cashiers focus on scanning, packing and up-selling grocery items.
At Cold Storage's Sime Darby outlet where these systems have been rolled out, there are 36 employees, significantly less than the usual 60 required at other Cold Storage outlets of a similar size.
Mr Phillip Siew, 70, who was using one of the self-checkout counters, said while these are convenient, seeing what is on the screen could be a problem for older customers whose eyesight is poor. He suggested having a magnifying sheet for elderly shoppers who might have difficulty reading.
National Productivity Council chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam visited Cold Storage at Sime Darby Centre on Thursday (Oct 29) to take a look at its smart shopping technologies.
He noted that while there is an initial investment in such self-checkout systems, there will be savings in other areas, such as fewer staff required. Customer and employee experiences will also be enhanced, he said.
Mr Tharman noted that Singapore has been making steady progress in improving productivity. Labour productivity, measured by Real Value-added per Worker, grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 2.5 per cent between 2009 and 2014.
However, Mr Tharman added that there have been "two disappointments". The first being that "a lot of advantages and gains were frontloaded, and there has been very little progress since while staying at a high level".
He also said while the export-oriented part of the economy has had very good productivity growth, purely domestic sectors have had slow productivity growth. Domestic sectors such as construction, retail trade and food services have been struggling with the tightening of manpower supply.