For most Singaporeans, FairPrice has a familiar place in our memories. As kids tagging along with our parents to the supermarket, we scampered gleefully down its aisles; as adults now, it’s still the place we head to for our weekly grocery run.
But the FairPrice of today isn’t quite the old-school one our parents and grandparents shopped at. Behind the scenes, a trailblazing digital transformation is taking shape – one that is sweeping awards and making the company one of the most fun, dynamic workplaces for youths today.
In the last few years, FairPrice’s Digital Business (DB) has evolved at lightning speed in tandem with the rise of grocery e-commerce. Drawing on automation to speed up routine processes, its fulfilment-from-store model enables online orders to reach your doorstep in as little as two hours. The in-store experience is being enhanced too – the ‘Scan-and-Go’ feature, which makes checkout cardless and seamless through an AI-backed kiosk system, is already available at 15 stores around the island.
What’s it like helping to shape the supermarket of the future? Here’s a peek into the journeys of two up-and-comers at FairPrice: Hannah Chan, Adoption Executive for Offline-to-Online Grocery, and Kenneth Wong, Business Process & Operations Manager at FairPrice Marketplace.
Impacting lives in an unexpected place
“I always knew I wanted to be part of an organisation that would impact many lives and effect change – but it was definitely surprising that FairPrice was where I ended up achieving this,” Hannah reflects. “Growing up, all I knew about FairPrice was: this is the supermarket I go to for groceries!”
It all started with an internship in Shanghai. During her three months there, she got to witness the incredible digitalisation that Shanghai’s grocery retailers were embarking on. After graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2020, she came across a position at FairPrice’s Digital Business and felt drawn to it.
“I was surprised there was a Singapore company aspiring to digitalise the shopping experience in ways no other retailer was doing,” recounts Hannah. “It was an interesting leap of faith, but I had no doubt I wanted to be part of this exciting move.” For her friends and family, the concept of FairPrice’s Digital Business was novel as well. To this day, she still gets asked: “Which store do you work in?”
As an Adoption Executive for Offline-to-Online Grocery, Hannah’s work bridges the divide between digital innovation and on-the-ground experience. A large part of her work focuses on growing usage of the FairPrice app by analysing app usage trends and identifying growth opportunities to support shoppers. “We get a lot of autonomy to explore different scenarios to make customers’ lives better,” she shares.
Another primary area of focus for her is enhancing the app-enabled in-store shopping experience. To do this, her team regularly visits stores to collect and analyse feedback from store teams and customers – a process which she finds immensely fulfilling. “It’s easy to get stuck planning things on your laptop, so it’s important to get realistic feedback from the ground,” she explains. “It makes a world of difference when I hear from customers or store teams about how their shopping experience has changed. It reminds me why I’m doing what I do.”
Doing social good with digital solutions
When Kenneth Wong began his job hunt post-graduation, he knew he wanted a job with a sense of purpose. Having double-majored in Operations Management and Strategic Management, he hoped to combine his strong business sense with a drive for social good. “As a social enterprise that helps stabilise the prices of everyday groceries, I saw meaning in a career at FairPrice,” he says.
But like Hannah, Kenneth’s journey in FairPrice’s Digital Business called for a leap of faith. In 2019, he joined the Marketplace – FairPrice’s online platform for independent third-party sellers to showcase niche products – as part of the Management Associate Programme. Back then, the team was so new that it only comprised two members: himself and a HOD.
“I had a lot of apprehension,” admits Kenneth. For one, his lack of tech experience meant a steep digital learning curve. For another, he wondered if such a small team meant a more challenging workload to manage. “But I decided: I’m young and should be learning as much as I can. Having to do everything only means I’ll learn more!”
His go-getting spirit paid off. Three years on, Kenneth has risen up the ranks to become Business Process & Operations Manager, with a team that has grown from two to over 20. On the operations side, Kenneth oversees the complex end-to-end logistics that keep groceries flowing smoothly, from first-mile collection from sellers to last-mile delivery. On the Business Process side, his team develops processes to scale the Marketplace and build new business channels.
Propelled by a pandemic-fuelled e-commerce boom, the FairPrice Marketplace has grown by leaps and bounds. But beyond business growth, Kenneth takes pride in how the Marketplace has supported consumers and other businesses. “It was so fulfilling to see the FairPrice DB teams coming together to help Singaporeans get their daily essentials when demand surged during circuit breaker,” he shares. “We also saw traditional businesses struggling to go digital, so we helped sellers to set up stores on the Marketplace and list products free of charge.”
Learning together, uplifting one another
With e-commerce evolving at dizzying speeds, there’s no doubt the learning curve can be daunting. For both Hannah and Kenneth, what helps them stay motivated is a collaborative team who makes work fun (in fact, over 50% of the Digital Business team are less than 30 years old!). They also benefit from the strong culture of learning at FairPrice, with many opportunities to upskill through courses at NTUC LearningHub.
“I often hear stories from friends about unsupportive teams, but it’s been the complete opposite for me in Digital Business,” says Hannah. “There’s always something new to learn, but what really helps is a team that empowers me to say: ‘We may not understand, but we’ll figure it out together.’”
Prior to FairPrice, Hannah has worked at her fair share of cutting-edge tech unicorns. Though seemingly a more ‘traditional’ organisation in comparison, she was surprised by FairPrice’s culture of innovation and empowerment, coupled with people-centric values. “We move fast but still value our teammates – we’re all here to do our best work while lifting each other up.”
One way her team celebrates its members is DB Rockstar, a peer-nominated award that comes with a prize of one day off. Hannah clinched the award in 2021 for her exceptional work. Her secret sauce? “I just try to approach everything with the best learning attitude I can,” she shares. “I think it’s about being ready to be adaptable and accept what comes my way.”
A culture of sharing ideas upward
Apart from incentivising ongoing learning, FairPrice’s Digital Business culture encourages anyone and everyone to share their thoughts. “There’s a great culture of sharing ideas upward, and my HOD has always been willing to hear out my suggestions,” Kenneth affirms.
One bottom-up idea that became reality was an order picker app, conceptualised by Kenneth and his team during Singapore’s circuit breaker. Order picking by the Marketplace’s third-party sellers was previously a manual affair, which inevitably meant higher rates of human error – missing or inconsistent barcodes, errors in SKU numbers. When demand for online goods surged during lockdown, these hiccups snowballed into serious delivery delays.
Enter the Picker Application, a mobile app designed to minimise human error while enabling contactless handover of goods. Sellers can use the app to scan items on their picklist, allowing any mistakes to be automatically detected and rectified on the spot.
Rolling out the app was a race against time, as the team scrambled not only to design and test their solution but also to win over their sellers. “It took some time and effort to persuade our stakeholders – who were understandably risk-averse – about the value of this innovation, and later to train them to use it,” Kenneth says. The app’s success is testament to their dedication – so much so that it was nominated for the SAP Innovation Awards.
Finding the right fit for career success
Choosing the right company to work for can be a puzzle, especially in the early stages of your career. What considerations should you think about before taking your own leap of faith?
“Don’t take your first job offer out of worry you won’t find something better,” Kenneth advises. “It’s important to be patient and select a good fit for yourself. The job should match what you value most – whether it’s high compensation, work-life balance, or finding a purpose.”
Hannah echoes this. “I’d encourage fresh grads to spend time considering what matters to them, because having self-understanding makes a huge difference,” she explains.
She herself had three clear priorities: job scope, reporting manager, and company culture. “I was excited about FairPrice’s job description from the outset, and during the interview, I instinctively felt that this was a safe, well-supported environment. These were clear signs that the role was something I wanted to explore.”
Hunting for your first job or contemplating a career switch? As Singapore’s leading supermarket player, NTUC FairPrice is at the forefront of retail technology and digital innovation. More than just a job, we strive to develop our employees with growth opportunities and the power to make a difference.
Explore career opportunities with FairPrice here.
Subscribe to our Digi-Fam e-newsletter to access our career resources and support network including the latest event happenings and more!