This new supermarket in Singapore brings smart tech and robots to grocery shopping

Singapore-based online startup honestbee just launched a new brick-and-mortar retail space named ‘habitat’.
Sean Lim / Business Insider

It’s a supermarket with a difference.

This new retail space at Pasir Panjang brings science-fiction into reality — cashiers are nowhere in sight and robots pack customers’ groceries.

Online marketplace honestbee’s new brick-and-mortar retail space – ‘habitat’ – opens to the public on Thursday (Oct 18). It houses what it claims to be the world’s first cashless, automated check-out system.

Spanning 60,000 sq ft, habitat by honestbee is a full supermarket with over 20,000 Asian and global flavours, ingredients and essentials which can be purchased both online and offline.

Transactions are made through the honestbee mobile app.
Sean Lim / Business Insider

In line with its futuristic vision, habitat does not accept cash. Payment is made through beePay, honestbee’s own e-payment system.

Before consumers can make a transaction at habitat, they are required to top their e-wallet.

The actual shopping process is a mix of traditional and modern. Customers walk the aisles and pick choices off the shelves like any other supermarket. Then, they scan the barcodes of their desired items and press pay.

This ‘Scan & Go’ method is only applicable for consumers purchasing 10 items or less.

Shoppers drop off their trolleys at AutoCheckout and wait for collection.
Sean Lim / Business Insider

For more than 10 items, shoppers have to drop off their trolleys at what honestbee claims to be the world’s first AutoCheckout.

Shoppers park their trolleys in front of the metal doors, scan a Quick Response Code on their phones and then wait to hear a ‘beep’ as their trolleys go through.

They may not have to queue but there is still a short wait involved as grocery items are transported to a behind-the-scenes warehouse, where a conveyor belt system picks them up and robots pack them into bags.

When the packed grocery bags are ready, a notification is sent to the shopper through the honestbee app.

Shoppers collect their grocery bags from RoboCollect.
Sean Lim / Business Insider

Shoppers can then head to the RoboCollect area. After shoppers scan their passes, habitat robots glide into position and wait for them to take their bags.

As well as catering to physical purchases, honestbee uses habitat to facilitate online orders.

These orders can be seen being moved around on overhead conveyor belts in the store.

Overhead conveyor belts transport grocery bags.
Sean Lim / Business Insider

Robots are not able to do everything. It is honestbee staff who collate the online orders before sending them off on the conveyor belts.

An honestbee staff hangs a grocery bag on a conveyor belt.
Sean Lim / Business Insider

Aside from the supermarket, habitat features in-house restaurants as well as bars offering fruit juices and alcoholic drinks. There’s even a reading corner.

Adding to the human touch, habitat has concierge staff manning most of these facilities. They also run food workshops, conduct masterclasses and provide customers with hands-on experiences with the products.