Esplanade MRT Station Now Has an Unmanned 7-Eleven Outlet & Auto Bubble Tea Store

Office workers near Esplanade MRT rejoice! You can now benefit from a futuristic robot delivery service for your daily needs.

Stellar Lifestyle has launched Hive 2.0, an innovative retail hub situated at Esplanade MRT station on the Circle Line.

The new venture promises more than ten distinct retail experiences, focusing on automation, robotics, and digital retail services. This move not only enhances local community engagement but also reshapes the overall commuter experience.

In other words, an introvert’s absolute dream come true.

The launch event witnessed the presence of notable figures, including Minister of State for Culture, Community, and Youth, Low Yen Ling; SMRT Chairman, Seah Moon Ming; SMRT Board Member and Staytion Chairman, Abu Bakar Mohd Nor; SMRT Group CEO, Ngien Hoon Ping; Stellar Lifestyle President, Tony Heng, and Staytion CEO, Jane Toh.

Image: Facebook (SMRT)

What Does it Boast?

Minister Low Yen Ling inaugurated the 297-metre hub on 22 January 2024, emphasising its potential to address challenges faced by retailers, such as operational costs, sales growth, and manpower and logistics issues.

Among the new concepts at Hive 2.0 is 7-Eleven Shop & Go, an unmanned and cashier-free convenience store.

This is not anything unique in particular, as other convenience stores islandwide have already implemented these changes, but it is, however, the first store in the 7-Eleven chain in Singapore.

Customers can pre-authorize their credit cards using a gantry, select items from the shelves, and exit, with their credit cards charged accordingly.

The store employs artificial intelligence (AI) technology and smart cameras to track and analyse customer behaviour, allowing for a seamless and secure shopping experience.

The best part: you can purchase all your favourite 7-Eleven ready-to-eat meals, drinks and other goods and it can all be delivered to you via a robot.

The robot delivery service by home-grown start-up QuikBot Technologies is part of the groundbreaking concepts unveiled at Hive 2.0, a state-of-the-art retail innovation hub situated at Esplanade Xchange, operated by SMRT’s business arm, Stellar Lifestyle.

These autonomous robots can efficiently navigate complex office layouts, including lifts, walkways, and gantries. They can even hand items off to another robot along the way. Orders can be made via the QuikBot mobile application. 

Image: Stellar Lifestyle

I mean, it sounds like the premise of the movie Wall-E, but if the robots aren’t actively trying to unsubscribe me from life, I wouldn’t mind it. 

Other featured concepts include Mr.R Robotics, an adaptive robotics retail store with a robotic arm for picking up frozen, chilled, and ambient products, and Le Tach Vending, a vending machine operator offering herbal teas, bak kwa, and fresh fruit.

In the coming months, commuters can even order bubble tea while they are on the train and pick it up from JAVIS, a robot bubble tea store, when they arrive at Hive 2.0.

Image: Stellar Lifestyle

Minister Low highlighted the role of innovative tools like AI in addressing the retail sector’s challenges, citing their potential to lower operational costs and enhance sales. 

She emphasised the importance of retailers adapting to ever-changing consumer needs through novel ideas and experiences.

Stellar Lifestyle President Tony Heng expressed optimism about the potential expansion of the concepts tested at Hive 2.0.

He indicated the intention to implement successful concepts in SMRT’s transit retail spaces after the validation period, potentially scaling across the train network.

The 7-Eleven Shop & Go store, for example, will run for at least six months at Hive 2.0, with plans to gather and review feedback before deciding on further implementations.

Possible Plans for Expansions

QuikBot Technologies, the startup behind the robot delivery service, has ambitious expansion plans.

From February, the service will be introduced at Suntec City, followed by office buildings like Marina One and Centennial Tower.

QuikBot aims to serve 400 buildings in the next four years, catering to approximately 1.2 million professionals, managers, executives, and technicians. The startup sees Singapore as a stepping stone and envisions expanding to other smart cities worldwide, including Dubai, Tokyo, and Seoul.

Commuters are encouraged to explore these groundbreaking retail concepts, fostering a unique and engaging shopping environment.

As Hive 2.0 becomes a focal point for technological advancements in retail, it marks a significant step towards elevating Singapore’s position as a hub for innovative and futuristic consumer experiences. 

And the next time your bubble tea barista tells you to “enjoy your drink”, you would never have to live through the embarrassment of saying, “You too!”