NTUC FairPrice pilots cigarette sales machine following tobacco display ban
SINGAPORE: Supermarket chain operator NTUC FairPrice is piloting the use of a cigarette sales machine, as it takes steps to comply with amendments to the Tobacco (Control and Advertisement) Bill, passed in Parliament this week, it announced on Wednesday (Mar 16). New laws to be implemented from 2017 will ban point-of-sale display of tobacco products such as cigarettes.
FairPrice Xpress at Peace Centre is the first of its outlets to remove all tobacco products from its shelves and to host the vending machine, which does not display cigarette packs or their labels. The trial of the machine - said to be an industry-first in Singapore - kicked off on Mar 3.
To buy cigarettes, customers tell the cashier what product they want, which the cashier will then select on a tablet interface. A paper slip is printed for the customer to make payment. Once the slip is scanned at the machine by staff, the pack is dispensed and the staff member will hand the product over to the buyer.
The machine helps to organise, track inventory and hold stock securely, said NTUC FairPrice's general manager for the Convenience sector Victor Cheong, adding that this helps improve productivity in stores by eliminating the need for manual stock taking.
Asked whether the lack of visual on the products might impact sales, Mr Cheong said it was too early to tell at this point.
"Being a large and responsible retailer, we are also concerned about the health of our customers. From that angle, we are very supportive of the initiative to cover these cigarettes in line with regulations from 2017," said Mr Cheong.
After the pilot, which is expected to last three months, FairPrice will assess the feasibility of extending the system to various outlets across the island. At present, they plan to roll out about 20 to 30 machines and possibly more if the pilot is successful.