SINGAPORE — Be prepared to spend even before you get to the various attractions on Sentosa Island: Chilli crab, sun-block lotion, books and even a drone are now on sale in vending machines installed along the Sentosa Boardwalk.
These are all part of a new innovative retail experience to get more people to use the 670m-long boardwalk, which is linked to VivoCity mall, instead of taking the monorail into the resort island.
Dubbed the “Boardwalk AdVendture”, the retail stretch launched on Tuesday (March 12) features 35 vending machines selling products from more than 50 brands including homegrown labels and products such as Fragrance Bak Kwa, “ice gem” biscuits and Singapore-themed souvenirs from Love SG.
Ms Jae Teo, the managing director of Royal Vending, the company that manages and leases the machines, said: “Vending machines are no longer just for food and drinks. The innovative vending concepts of today can help (elevate and push) made-in-Singapore brands, start-ups and host unexpected products.”
All of the vending machines are “cashless-enabled” and allow digital payment options such as DBS Paylah! and WeChat Pay, although some also accept cash.
This is because some of the products sold cost more than typical vending machines, such as a S$139 camera drone, Ms Teo told TODAY.
The machines are placed in four different themed clusters: Fresh Point, selling mostly snacks and refreshments; Gift Street, which sells books and trinkets; Fun Alley, selling outdoor essentials and featuring a claw machine; and Foodie Zone, an indoor food-and-beverage area.
Artwork such as handpainted handheld fans by students from the autism-centred Pathlight School will also be sold in a vending machine from social enterprise Art Faculty.
Ms Jacelyn Lim, deputy executive director of Autism Resource Centre, which manages Art Faculty, said: “It helps us to widen our reach for the work by our artists in the Pathlight Artist Development Programme… and it helps us to shine a spotlight on the talents of people on the autism spectrum.”
Proceeds from the sale of the artwork go in part to the social enterprise and to the artists, who get paid in royalties.
Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said at the launch event: “Vending machines can also be a new sales channel, helping companies to offer their products 24/7, without incurring high manpower costs.”
He hopes that it will turn out to be a “unique experience which you cannot find elsewhere in Singapore or the region”.
“If there are rules which we need to review to support certain business ideas to realise this vision, MTI (the Ministry of Trade and Industry) and Sentosa Development Corporation are happy to take a look and see how we can help,” he added.
‘FIRST-TIME AUTOMATION ADOPTERS’
Ms Teo revealed that 70 per cent of the brands featured are “first-time retail automation adopters”.
“It’s the largest brand collection for branding machines. It’s really like a departmental store.”
She told TODAY that the project was an initiative from Sentosa Development Corporation, which contacted Royal Vending in December 2016. “The idea was to reduce the load of the monorail and to make Sentosa Boardwalk a more convenient option to walk in,” she said.
About 200,000 people use the Boardwalk each month, forming about 10 per cent of the number of visitors to Sentosa, and Ms Teo hopes that this initiative will drive up numbers to 300,000 at least.
One of the retailers involved is Stessa Group, an exclusive distributor of Pristine Farms bird’s nest in Singapore. Its products are made entirely in Singapore, its managing director Stefanus Koh said.
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