Coffee shop of the future unveiled in heartlands
F&B chains Chang Cheng and Koufu roll out 'coffee shops of the future'
Self-ordering kiosks, an automated tray return system and a floor cleaning robot.
Such features can be found in two heartland "coffee shops of the future" unveiled over the weekend by well-known coffee shop chains Chang Cheng and Koufu.
This comes under a pilot tender system by Spring Singapore and the Housing Board that encourages operators to innovate and transform from the traditional coffee shop format.
Besides encouraging cashless payments, these new concepts would also have a centralised kitchen and several food collection points.
Customers get a queue number after ordering their food.
Chang Cheng, which runs more than 200 food outlets and 27 coffee shops islandwide, officially opened the 4,000 sq ft FoodTastic in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 1 yesterday.
Koufu, which operates more than 80 food courts, coffee shops and restaurants, officially launched Happy Hawkers at Block 872C Tampines Street 86 on Saturday with a seating capacity of 146.
Prices at these coffee shops are benchmarked against air-conditioned coffee shops in the vicinity, according to a tender requirement.
The heavy investment behind these high-tech coffee shops is necessary in light of manpower shortages, said the operators.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that your food will arrive faster but it will definitely save queuing time. For example, if you are a family of four, you would order at a single point instead of going to different stalls.Koufu’s chief operating officer David Yang
Koufu, which already deploys tray return smart robots at their outlets in Punggol Plaza and Waterway Point, said that man-hours were reduced by half with new technology.
The use of automation in food preparation will shorten cooking time by 30 to 70 per cent.
At Chang Cheng, integration of technology is expected to reduce manpower by up to 60 per cent.
Chang Cheng's managing director Ricky Kok estimates that he invested $1 million in technology, in addition to $800,000 spent on renovation.
Mr Kok said: "Manpower is a challenge for our industry. The younger generation are not keen, and we are seeing older hawkers leaving the trade.
"Some people might not be used to the new concepts at first, but when they realise the convenience, it will become part of their lives."
Koufu's chief operating officer David Yang said that about 70 per cent more was invested on technology compared with a traditional coffee shop.
Technology also means a different experience for customers, who can now choose to make their orders via a mobile app.
Chang Cheng's customers can use the EZi Wallet app while Koufu has its own Beat the Q app.
Mr Yang said: "We are trying to re-educate (customers) to find a table, sit down, use the app to order and collect it when the food is ready.
"It doesn't necessarily mean that your food will arrive faster but it will definitely save queuing time. For example, if you are a family of four, you would order at a single point instead of going to different stalls."
A tray-returning habit also needs to be developed.
Chang Cheng's general manager Michael Leng estimates that only half of all customers are willing to return their trays.
He said: "This requires more education and we are thinking of implementing incentives to encourage tray return in the future."
Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and adviser to Tampines Grassroots Organisations, said at Koufu's opening on Saturday: "We have to ensure that as we grow the F&B trade, things that we are used to, such as people clearing our trays and taking our orders are not going to be available anymore because the people who do this kind of jobs are going to be non-existent or we would have to bring in a lot of foreign workers...
"Therefore we have to adjust and take new measures."