Shop and dine experience at habitat honestbee

We’re a multi-sensory, tech-meets-food grocery and dining experience like no other. See, smell, hear, touch and taste fresh flavours and food items from across the globe

Packed! Day 3 opening at habitat honestbee

What makes habitat by honestbee different?
We’re not just a grocery store and we’re not just a place to eat. At habitat by honestbee, you can experience the best of both housed in a 60,000 sq ft food wonderland. Cash and queues are the least of your worries. Powered by honestbee technology, we take care of the nitty-gritty so food comes first. Ready for a one-of-a-kind experience?

With this in mind, I was very keen to explore their tech innovations to see how they changed the retail experience and how this relates to the AmazonGo experience.

habitat by honestbee
Address:
34 Boon Leat Terrace, Singapore 119866
Launch Date: 18 October 2018

In-store experience

Turnstile Entrance: Please download the app to enter the store (Mood: 😟)

Photo is taken from here. You need to download and setup the app to get the Bee Pass just to go in.

I went with my friends and we were stopped by the entry gate. We needed to download the app on the spot(they provided wifi). Understanding that we might need to use the app when we were in the store we obliged but couldn’t help but notice what would happen if my parents were not tech savvy. After three of us downloaded the app, we realised only one of us need to download the app and get the Bee Pass to go in. We had to beeline one by one to go in at the same time at the same turnstile.

I wanted to get the Bee Pass to enter the store but I was blocked by the map in the app.

Why was I confused:
1. Is it necessary to download an app and tap for entrance/exit? I was required to download honestbee app on the spot before even going in the store to experience.

Is this to ensure everyone in the store has the app? Is this used to track in-store user traffic? WHY?

There were some people waiting in front of the entrance for their app to be downloaded.

2. No clear instructions in the app on how to get the Bee Pass. I signed in with my Facebook quickly and was eager to go into the store but blocked by the map(where is my Bee Pass?). I didn’t want to key in my postcode with the thought that I didn’t want to have delivery yet. (Later I realised I need to key in my postcode to get the to Bee Pass page)

Dining experience

Browse and pay with Bee Pass: Without the app, you can’t order anything (Mood: 🤨)

Why was I confused:
1. No physical menu: We decided to have lunch at habitat and we were confused to find no food stall’s menu at the respective counter by walking around. We were told to look at the food options in the app and order from there.

2. No fallback payment method to order a meal: When I decided to order my food, I realised I have to setup payment with my credit card to proceed but sadly the app had serious glitches. I had to give up and use my friend’s Bee Pass(he set account before this) to pay instead as there were no fallback option to pay.

3. No clear names of food stall and waiting times: When purchasing meals that needed to be cooked at the Campfire stall(like beef and lobster), there was no waiting time indication. We were told the waiting time verbally after we paid. For meals that can be ordered from the app, it has the waiting time but it was never refreshed (app glitches I guess?)

Shopping experience

Middle picture: The aunty was so confused as she kept scanning the barcode on lobster box but to no avail and the staff had to step in and help her.

Browsing for grocery items: Know about the product (Mood: 🙂)

You can scan the barcode to know more the product or you can purchase by putting it in your app cart. This was understandable.

Convenient checkout and fully automated collection point: (Mood: 🙂)

Why was I confused?

  1. Confusing payment flow: For less than 10 items, you were encouraged to self-pay.
    a. You need to get plastic bags for your items.
    b. Scan EACH of the item’s barcode.

My friend’s reaction: “ The automated checkout is empty, why can’t we go?”

We was confused when we were redirected to self-pay even though we wanted to opt for automated checkout (zero queue) and were given 2 plastic bags.

2. No clear indication on which grocery bag belongs to us: We scanned our bee pass and had no idea which grocery bags belonged to us (there were bags at Y5 and Y6). There was a couple waiting behind us wondering the same thing too. The staff came over and informed us which made me wonder why the automated process was somewhat manual.

Dining and shopping areas: You have to search high and low (Mood: 🤨)

Why was I confused?
No clear separation between dining and shopping: There were a lot of people, I bumped into people who were shopping with trolleys as the grocery compartments were positioned very closely together. There were people looking at the items on the rack that was just located beside the dining table.

Would it be better to have clear section separation between dining and shopping?

Thoughts

In general, it was confusing as there was a high learning curve for honestbee shopping and dining experience at the beginning and the staffs were not helpful at all. Was it because of the huge crowd that lead to edge cases hence its execution failed? Who was its target audience? I had a discussion with my friends and we agreed that despite the huge crowd and the app glitches, we would still confused with the dining and shopping experiences as they were not intuitive enough and I consider myself a tech-savvy person.

Will this suitable in Singapore context?
habitat honestbee is a good innovation concept store but their service experience design has to be improved. The UX and the quality of their app is the key factor of their tech-integrated and multi-sensory experience and most of their features would not be functional if it failed. I couldn’t help by comparing my experience in local Fairprice supermarket, overseas AmazonGo and IKEA. The checkout process was still heavily reliant on the human interactions with the app. If the learning curve for me was high, this might be a challenge for older generations in Singapore.

Amy Cheong is a software engineer at Tigerspike and she’s also interested in getting herself busy hands-on with personal projects. Here is her Twitter,LinkedIn and personal website.

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Amy Cheong

Amy Cheong

Current: Product Manager at Workmate • Always Software Engineer.