In 2018, NTUC FairPrice – Singapore’s largest supermarket chain – launched its online platform, started using AutoStore, and dramatically increased its picking efficiency.
In March 2018, Singapore’s largest supermarket chain, NTUC FairPrice, launched two significant innovations: its overhauled online platform, FairPrice On, and its new, automated storage and retrieval system, AutoStore.
The new AutoStore system, based at the FairPrice Distribution Center in Joo Koon, has enabled the company to increase its order fulfillment rate by four times.
Automation has allowed supermarket operator FairPrice to streamline its processes and track products more easily.
NTUC (National Trades Union Congress) FairPrice is a co-operative chain of over 100 supermarkets and 160 Cheers convenience stores across the island of Singapore.
The company was originally established in 1973 as the NTUC Welcome Supermarket in Toa Payoh. In May 1983, NTUC merged with the Singapore Employees Co-Operative (SEC) to form NTUC FairPrice Co-Operative Limited. Today, the supermarket chain has the slogan “Singapore’s very own.”
As is the case with other major supermarket chains worldwide, their products include everything from fresh produce, grocery items, and clothing to personal care products, pharmacy products, and general household goods.
In 2016, Singapore launched its Retail Industry Transformation Map (ITM). This map contains key strategies to support sector transformation, and focuses on innovation and the adoption of new technologies aimed at driving productivity.
NTUC FairPrice has adopted the strategies outlined in the map. “We continue to innovate and harness technology to boost productivity and customer service while adapting to constant shifts in the e-commerce industry,” says NTUC FairPrice CEO Seah Kian Peng.
The surge in demand for certain products at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic also meant that FairPrice had to increase their capacity. In turn, Singapore had a role to play in bettering the supply chain of goods in the region.
Kian Peng believes the shifting global supply chain will create opportunities for Singapore to emerge as a trusted hub to do business.
The new goods-to-person storage and retrieval system, installed in 2018, stores brand offerings of over 13,000 products. The FairPrice On e-commerce platform has also grown in leaps and bounds, and there are now over 400,000 registered subscribers. Many place their orders via a mobile app.
Here’s what the AutoStore system looks like in NTUC FairPrice’s large Singapore warehouse:
AutoStore has helped maximize economic benefits to people living in Singapore and the surrounding region.
“FairPrice’s journey is reflective of Singapore’s in the next phase of its development, which is about embracing technological change to maximize its benefits for everyone, but also keeping a watchful eye on how it impacts jobs and helps every individual adapt to change and do well, “ Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugarathnam said at the official launch of the new AutoStore system.
President Halimah Yacob adds: “Automation has allowed supermarket operator FairPrice to streamline its processes as it tracks products more easily. This has also enabled FairPrice to spot potential problems before they turn into major issues and end up causing disruptions.”
Yacob notes these efficiencies are significant for Singapore, a country that imports most of its food. “We import more than 90% of our food products from 170 countries. Ensuring supply chain resilience for our food products and essential foodstuff is really important. It’s an issue of national security.”
Apart from general economic advantages, the automated warehousing system has improved FairPrice NTUC’s operational efficiency by a factor of four. It also makes full use of the available workforce, the entire system is incredibly flexible, and the team can easily expand it to accommodate future growth.
In 2017, after experiencing a 30% growth year-on-year, Parts Town installed the AutoStore warehouse automation system to help the company continue to fulfill its same-day delivery promise.
Dutch company Beekman B.V. had to choose: either move to bigger premises or upgrade the automation of their existing warehouse. They decided on the AutoStore system.
AutoStore can fit any warehouse or fulfillment center. Make yours the next.