Singapore’s FairPrice opens store designed for disabled customers
Dec 4, 2015
Singapore’s largest supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice has opened a supermarket designed to make it easier for shoppers with disabilities or ageing.
Dubbed an ‘Enabled Store’, its staff undergo special training to better serve customers.
The Enabled Store is located within the new Enabling Village, an integrated community space for people with disabilities at 20 Lengkok Bahru, #01-13. Trading hours are daily from 8am to 9pm.
Among other features, the store has lower checkout counters and shelves to make it easier for people shopping in wheelchairs.
At Wednesday’s official opening ceremony of both the village and the supermarket, FairPrice CEO Seah Kian Peng, said the initiative was an example of the company constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of Singapore’s population.
“We support seniors and persons with disabilities in living high-quality and independent lives, and recognise their needs amidst a backdrop of a rapidly ageing population. This is part of our efforts in striving to be a retailer with a heart and staying true to our social mission of serving various segments of the community through innovative retail formats and offerings.”
With the number of seniors in Singapore expected to grow to more than 900,000 in 2030, and with more than 77,200 with disabilities above the age of 18, the store seeks to make shopping more seamless for these segments of society. It incorporates the principles of universal design with special features and products to enhance in-store experience.
Physical characteristics of the store include call buttons located at the entrance and along store aisles to offer assistance, magnifying glasses at every aisle to help customers read product labels, and merchandise shelves customised to ideal heights for easy reach. The store also offers a more extensive range of supplements, products with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) and assistive products such as walking aids.
Staff at the store have undergone a specially developed training program, jointly developed by NTUC LearningHub, Centre for Seniors and the Dr Oon Chiew Seng Trust, to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to serve senior customers better. The training programme aims to help service staff understand and anticipate the needs of senior customers, recognise senior related ailments such as dementia, as well as empathise with the difficulties that seniors may encounter so they can communicate and respond better to their needs.
FairPrice is the first organisation to send employees for the course, training 100 frontline staff to date. Over 500 FairPrice frontline staff will also undergo this training programme in the next two years.
Existing initiatives to help FairPrice customers stretch their dollar will also be available at this store including the Big Value Bag program which offers a 10 per cent discount on over 1000 FairPrice housebrand products, which are already priced 10-15 per cent lower than other popular brands.
Elsewhere in the $25 million government-funded Enabling Village, there are food outlets which hire people with disabilities, and a retail art gallery where people can buy artworks and merchandise such as mugs and notebooks designed by people with autism.