- Easy M
Would you steal food if no one was looking?
Well, one company’s entire business model depends on people saying no to that question.
A “smart micro mart” created by Singaporean company Easy M Smart Technologies is offering offices and co-working spaces an unsupervised shelf with snacks for sale – and relying purely on customers’ integrity to prevent theft.
To buy snacks, customers pay by scanning the SGQR code printed on the shelf, which allows payment methods like DBS PayNow, DBS PayLah, OCBC Pay Anyone, NETSPay and Liquid Pay.
Easy M Smart Technologies director Ong Beng Ann told Business Insider that the product was aimed at the “new generation of office workers” who demand more food choices in the office than a vending machine or a basic pantry with coffee and tea.
Businesses who address this demand are seen as caring more about staff well-being, he added.
Easy M’s micro-mart, which can stock up to 300 products at once, saves employees the walk to a convenience store or supermarket to buy snacks, and could be a way for those who work late to buy food if no shops are open – particularly for workers of offices in remote places like industrial parks.
Businesses get to pick which snacks the micro-mart will sell by using an app to make orders. There currently are over 100 products to choose from, including Lays potato chips, Caramel Corn, and Shin Ramyun.
Ong said the idea for the micro-mart came from “similar unmanned retail concepts in China of considerable scale,” and that the company spent eight months and S$200,000 to set up the business.
Because there are no labour costs involved, Easy M can offer snacks at lower prices than convenience stores, but still reap “a considerable profit margin”, he added.
However, the major catch of having an unmanned shelf is the possibility that customers can just take products and walk away without paying.
To avoid this, the micro-mart will only be offered to closed office spaces, and not in open or public areas to reduce the likelihood of theft, Ong said.
“Since it is in a closed environment, those working in the space essentially form a community, with individuals supervising each other and looking over the micro-mart,” he added. The company would also withdraw the micro-mart from places where theft cases regularly occurred.
“We have generally found that Singapore companies are very focused on credibility and trust among co-workers,” Ong said, adding that so far, the company had not encountered any theft issues at micro-marts it had set up.
Currently, 18 companies, including factories and co-working spaces, have set up the micro-mart on office premises – with several more firms testing out the service.
One client, Singapore-headquartered payments and gaming firm Cloud Alliance, said that the micro-mart was “convenient and easy to use” and saved staff from having to walk to the nearest supermarket.
According to a spokesman, the micro-mart is now the “go-to place” for employees who have to work late at night.