NTUC FairPrice Co-Operative nabs two Retail Asia Awards
It successfully catered to the essential and social needs of Singaporeans amidst the pandemic.
With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing about an explosion of new needs, many businesses struggled to cater to their customers whilst staying afloat. For FairPrice, the nation’s grocer, the landscape presented both a challenge and opportunity.
Singapore’s nationwide partial lockdown, referred to as the Circuit Breaker, revealed not just the many structural frailties in Singaporean society but the vulnerable strata - the ageing population - who had been cut off from vital supply lines for both food and company.
Priding itself on its ability to both moderate the cost of living for Singaporeans and protecting the most vulnerable in society, FairPrice took its product mix to them, giving birth to FairPrice on Wheels. The initiative was designed to provide essential goods to estates with a higher concentration of low-income seniors who had to walk a distance of more than 1 km to reach the nearest supermarket.
Specially outfitted vans were sent to Kampong Glam, Commonwealth Link, Telok Blangah Crescent, Telok Blangah Rise, and Jalan Kukoh. The vans were posted daily from 9am to 2pm to help seniors shorten their grocery runs and enable them to purchase vital supplies such as rice, bread, instant noodles, canned food, oil, and toiletries, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce was rotated weekly to ensure variety.
Following positive and appreciative feedback from the community, FairPrice scaled up the initiative, with the five vans placed on longer rotations covering 11 neighbourhoods across the day. FairPrice also took it a step further by creating its first mobile truck, which was able to carry an expanded assortment of 200 stock keeping units (SKU), of which 40% were household brands and included chilled and frozen products.
The truck was also able to carry a more sophisticated point of sales (POS) machine, enabling customers to use contactless payment methods and earn loyalty points, referred to as LinkPoints, further moderating the cost of living for low-income residents.
Meanwhile, with the retail landscape shifting towards online platforms, an opportunity arose for the co-operative to create a more memorable brand experience that could win long-term loyalty and increase spend.
FairPrice Xtra Parkway Parade (FP Xtra PP) store launch was one such opportunity. Located in an estate that over-indexes on affluent families and international residents who have a penchant for a finer living, the decision was to position FP Xtra PP as not just another place for grocery runs but a space to spend time in. It also provides a different value proposition in an area with a plethora of grocery options.
FP Xtra PP was the first store designed as a social space first, supermarket second. At the heart of the store’s design is the store’s kitchen where customers can dine within a supermarket. The open and inviting space houses a “Pick, Cook, Enjoy” initiative in collaboration with local seafood restaurant Ban Tong Seafood, with customers able to select ingredients and customise cooking techniques to fit every shoppers’ food preferences.
As well, the space offers local brands a platform to host a wide variety of food offerings such as coffee by premium roastery Tiong Hoe Coffee and locally inspired gelato flavours by Alfero Gelato. For customers looking to slip in some social time with a drink in hand, they could do so at The Bar, the first cocktail bar housed within a supermarket.
To tap into the increased focus on health and wellness amongst shoppers, FP Xtra PP integrated its organic offerings directly into regular aisles rather than segregating them into different bays like in other supermarkets.
For shoppers who are conscious of sustainability, self-help refill stations were provided to reduce packaging when picking and mixing items such as coffee, tea, and nuts. For international customers, premium condiments and spices were brought in to bring a taste of home. Supporters of buying local, fresh produce such as fish, eggs, and vegetables have dedicated sections to promote domestic suppliers.
During its launch week, FairPrice Xtra Parkway Parade was the most searched for term online, with media outlets dubbing the initiative as the ‘future of supermarkets’. Sales numbers were higher during its launch month compared to other FairPrice Xtra stores, with strong sales continuing into the second month.
Thus, it is no surprise that NTUC FairPrice Co-Operative snagged both the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiative of the Year - Singapore and Hypermarket of the Year - Singapore awards at the recently concluded Retail Asia Award, presented by Retail Asia. Now in its 16th year, the awards event lauds exceptional retailers, projects, and executives who have introduced remarkable initiatives and solutions that have further changed the retail industry.