Siam Commercial Bank
Co-creation with Siam Commercial Bank delivers cashless self-checkout for The Mall
Prompted by the Thai government's drive toward a cashless society, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and The Mall Group (TMG), a major upscale retailer based in Bangkok, turned to Fujitsu for an automated, flexible and cashless point-of-sale solution. Up and running since September 2017, the new system is boosting customer satisfaction and streamlining operations for both retailer and bank. Its success paves the way to expanding the system and co-creating more new digital services.
We hope to continue working with Fujitsu to make the cashless society a reality in our country.
EVP of Payments Product Development and Solutions
Division, Siam Commercial Bank
Digital transformation of the retail experience benefits shopper, merchant and bank
For consumer and merchant alike, checkout has always been the most troublesome aspect of the retail experience. Shoppers wait in long lines while customers ahead fumble for exact change. Cashiers must handle the cash tendered and give change that the retailer needs to prepare each day. Meanwhile, so many staff are tied up on checkout that too few are on the floor to assist customers. And at the end of the day, an armored car must take all that cash to the bank where it has to be counted again. For all concerned, the checkout process is a hassle.
New cashless technologies, like PIN-verified credit cards and smartphone-based QR codes, open the door to innovations that speed up transactions and free up staff. But making them work requires the cooperation of multiple players: government regulators, banks, merchants, technology providers… and customers.
Recognizing its achievements in cashless self-checkout applications in Japan and elsewhere, TMG and SCB turned to Fujitsu for a solution.
The story so far
Bringing together multiple partners for a solution “Made in Thailand”
Only a few years ago, this project might have been impossible. Central bank regulations were too restrictive and customers were not yet ready. But in recent years the Thai government’s "national e-payment agenda" led to the introduction of PromptPay, a new e-payment infrastructure across all banks in the Southeast Asian nation. Along with the credit- and debit-card transactions common in similar systems, PromptPay goes a step further to include QR code functionality – which makes it possible to pay directly from a smartphone.
As this new era dawned, SCB, one of Thailand’s most progressive banks, was determined to lead the way. But to prove the concept SCB needed an equally progressive retail partner with lots of smartphone- and card-bearing customers, plus a technology provider with just the right expertise. TMG, Thailand’s leading operator of Gourmet supermarkets (with an average of 2 million transactions per month) was the obvious choice on the retail side. After a careful selection process, both SCB and TMG agreed that Fujitsu offered the best technology. And so a three-way process of co-creation began in early 2017.
A paramount KPI for the project was a superior Thai-language interface, given Thailand’s unique script and intricate culture of politeness. Accustomed to similar language challenges in Japan, Fujitsu readily agreed that the software had to be locally developed. And to keep costs down, so did the hardware. The result is a solution entirely “Made in Thailand.”
At the same time, Thailand being one of the world’s major tourist destinations, the system had to be flexible enough to meet the language needs and payment preferences of a diverse clientele.
Plus, a range of other functions were required, such as validating parking passes and factoring in membership and coupon discounts. In fact, this functionality was seen as a critical feature from launch, with self-checkout discounts as the lure to get shoppers to try it.
What’s more, the new solution had to be compatible with TMG’s existing store system.
How do you get shoppers to try something they've never seen before?
TMG's Bangkok Gourmet supermarkets – favored by young, up-scale, tech-savvy and time-stressed shoppers – was the perfect place to launch an innovation completely new to Thailand. Many TMG shoppers have both credit cards and smartphones, along with the knowhow to master unfamiliar apps.
Even so, the trio of co-creators knew they had to do everything possible to gain acceptance from customers. First of all, the external design had to be friendly and welcoming. Second, user instructions had to be intuitive and easy-to-understand in the local language. And third, the twin lures of faster checkout and deep discounts were seen as essential.
To stimulate trial at launch, TMG presented early adopters with an offer too good to refuse: spend 500 baht and get 100 baht back.
As expected at launch, staff had to be on hand to show shoppers how to use the system. But as people learned how to use the system the need for such “interventions” gradually tailed off.
Outcome and next step
Digital transformation accelerates Thailand's progress toward a cashless society
Since its initial launch in September 2017 at TMG's flagship Gourmet supermarket in Bangkok, the co-created cashless checkout system has performed with a high level of reliability, and TMG is now in the process of rolling it out across the company's locations nationwide.
Chairat Petchdakul, VP of Supermarket Merchandising notes that, “It is contributing to improving our customers' shopping experience. By co-creating for the Gourmet market with SCB and Fujitsu, we were able to achieve something that we could not have achieved alone. It makes us very happy when we see customers using the cashless, self-checkout. Among the many vendors available to us, Fujitsu was the only one who could achieve these things by our required delivery date.”
TMG is now moving to extend system functionality by offering a wider range of language and payment options. To serve Chinese visitors, who typically spend heavily on items to take home, the system now accepts WeChat Alipay, China's most popular payment method. And plans are afoot to offer more global cashless payment options, such as PayPal.
Today, TMG outlets typically feature 10 human cashiers alongside two self-checkout machines. But in future the company expects that ratio will be reversed. And both TMG and SCB expect the trend to spread as TMG’s pioneering system has drawn widespread attention in Thai business circles. For Thailand’s bankers and government officials alike, this is an encouraging sign that the nation is progressing steadily toward a cashless society.
SCB is equally pleased with the result. Srihannath Lamsam, EVP of the bank's Payments Product Development and Solutions Division, said, “We owe the success of this co-creation project to Fujitsu’s know-how and its many years of experience in Thailand. We hope to continue working with Fujitsu to make the cashless society a reality in our country.”
Siam Commercial Bank
|Address||9 Ratchadapisek Rd., Jatujak, Bangkok (Thailand)|
［Published in 2019］