Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Future of Shopping at Ma2 Shop


Vending machine retail is gaining traction in Singapore with new concepts popping up everywhere. Examples include the Vendcafe vending machine cafe in Sengkang and the Giant Vendmart vending machine retail concept at Tampines. Now, a newcomer has arrived called the Ma2 Shop which aims to revolutionise the humble HDB void deck provision shops. Here's the scoop on this interesting retail concept.

What is the Ma2 Shop?


The Ma2 Shop, a play on the name "Mama" shop, is a retail concept that essentially is like a future version of the void deck provision shop. The retail store uses a cluster of vending machines selling essentials and runs round the clock without anyone manning the store. With more 24 hour and air-conditioned supermarkets popping up everywhere, the Ma2 shop aims to bring back the convenience and nostalgia the traditional provision shops used to provide.

Where to find the Ma2 shop?


The Ma2 shop is available at a few locations islandwide particularly at HDB void decks that used to house a traditional provision shop. These locations include neighbourhoods like Tampines, Hougang and Serangoon. The particular outlet that we went to was located in Serangoon particularly in the Lorong Lew Lian district. Finding the outlet was quite difficult as it was located deep inside.

What's In a Ma2 Shop?


The Ma2 shop consists of vending machines that sold essentials like canned and bottled drinks, pharmacy supplies like ointments and bandages and the usual snacks like Hello Panda and Pocky. There were also several unique vending machines that sold items like a canned Japanese stew called Oden and hot packaged food like Nasi Briyani and Seafood Fried Rice.

Limited Range of Items


When we visited the outlet back in August 2017, the range of items sold was fairly limited. The snack machine only sold a few snacks and another vending machine was totally empty. The machine that sold hot packaged food only had a limited amount of food and it was a little bit on the expensive side compared to the Vendcafe which we visited in Sengkang.

Limited Payment Options


Another disappointing factor of the Ma2 Shop was the limited payment options. None of the machines accepted coins and notes which we were completely puzzled. Yes, cashless is the way to go but plenty of people are still using cash so why not include both methods of payment on the machines?


Also, even when they do accept cards, it's only limited to just the EZ Link card. You can't use Visa's Paywave, NFC contactless, credit cards, NETS and even NETS Flashpay (which uses the same tech as the EZ Link card). If you don't use EZ Link for retail and mostly use it for transport, you're basically out of luck.

The Future of Retail?


While the Ma2 Shop will definitely bring convenience to the residents living around the area. its limitations like limited items, limited payment options and expensive hot packaged food would deter potential customers from coming here. Plus, some people still prefer talking to an actual 'auntie' or 'uncle' manning the physical provision shop.


We do see the potential in the Ma2 Shop but as of right now, they still need to iron out the kinks before it could match up to its rival, Vendcafe, which already attracts a steady stream of customers at its new outlets in Pasir Ris, Ang Mo Kio and Lakeside alongside their existing outlet in Sengkang.

Conclusion

While the Ma2 Shop was a good concept, the execution could be much better. With more vending machine concepts popping up from time to time, the competition between physical retail stores, online retail and vending machine retail continues to heat up giving us consumers more choices and (hopefully) deeper discounts. Definitely an interesting time for the retail industry to be in right now.

Getting Here 

Bus services available: 22, 43, 43M, 45, 53, 58, 70, 70M, 81, 82, 101, 103, 107, 107M, 153, 317 (Bus stop along Upper Serangoon Road before Lor Lew Lian)

Nearest MRT station: NE12/CC13 Serangoon MRT Station (North East Line/Circle Line)

Website: Not Available

Address: Blk 7, Lorong Lew Lian, Singapore 531007

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