What do you get when an online retailer setting up shop to bring the shopping experience into a brick and mortar setting? The result is the Habitat outlet by Honest Bee. Let’s check out Honestbee Habitat Beehive tech retail therapy with a lunch and shop around there today.
The idea of an e-commerce fusion is totally not new. Amazon had been pioneering the idea with their pop-up stores in the US. Notably Honest bee is one of the main players in the scene in Singapore.
They claim to provide a cashless multi-sensory grocery and dining experience. They are one of the first to bring such a concept ahead of competitors Redmart and the incumbent Amazon here.
A gem in Boon Leat Terrace
You find the Habitat “Beehive” tucked in an industrial estate Boon Leat Terrace along Pasir Panjang road. It is situated near the Maple Tree Business city. Also, it sits in between Labrador Park and Pasir Panjang MRT station. These are the two closest MRT stations beside a range of buses you can take along Pasir Panjang road. It is not a long walk in.
Furthermore, with the exception of a couple of bee-like themeing and large habitat signs and banners draped outside the building fence lines and car park gantry. Also, the industrial building is pretty plain and inconspicuous indeed. You cannot really make up what is goodies are there inside the building just from the outside.
The Honest Bee beehive from your Mobile device
Moreover, going on the online retail model. Dining and shopping in honest bee habitat revolves largely around your internet-enabled Smart phone. It does everything from purchasing groceries, food and novelties on-site all within the beehive Habitat. Henceforth, you need the honest bee app installed on a compatible smart phone.
Remember to setup your Honest bee app beforehand!
You be advised to setup the app beforehand by downloading and quickly creating an account before entering. If not, you will have to set it up at the entrance counter. There are friendly staff there to help you with your initial setup.
New user? Do get the free $10 sign up bonus
During my visit, I made a mistake of signing up a new account directly on the app and not getting a $10 sign-up bonus with a referral.
Hence, if you are visiting the place with a couple of friends, you can take advantage of the $10 referral bonus which gives you $10 off $20 and your referrer $5 off $20. You can use these straightway at the habitat. If you need a referral link and if may, you can help me out by signing up using my link to get your $10 sign-up bonus.
With the app fired up, you be prompted to enter a postal code. This is how the app works to geo-locate you to give you additional “Habitat” app menu options. Beforehand, you have to grant the app the needed location permissions for it to work.
Also, entering the postal code of the building (Singapore 119886) brings up a new context menu to access the “Habitat” beehive functions on your app. Here, you can choose to bring up your “Bee pass” which is a unique QR code on phone which identifies your Honest bee account.
Lastly, you have to add a payment credit/debit card which you will be charged a refundable 50 cents to verify it.
Scan your beepass QR to enter
At the entrance, you place your phone screen face down onto a gantry “Bee pass” QR scanner to open the gates to enter the beehive. Upon entering inside, you get greeted by a vast white and pleasantly cavernous indoor area. The ceiling at about 3 floors high, which is essentially a modified warehousing building purposed for retail.
Also, do note that everything sold here is to be paid by a credit or debit card. You will have to add it as a payment option in the Honestbee app. Cash is not accepted in-store or any of the dining stores.
The beehive offers a mix of supermarket shopping as well as food-court style open dining. You can see people trotting around with small little pushcarts and loading items from rows of shelves.
Items on sale includes a choice of sauces, drinks, condiments, snacks, fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood and frozen meat products on offer.
Furthermore, there are several notable more premium items such as drinks and condiments yu can’t find in your local NTUC or cold storage. Such as sauces and baking goods. I can see this is a niche market Honestbee could be targetting.
Moreover, these stores are scattered throughout the single floor about the floor area of a school multi-purpose hall. You can explore the area through careful labeled foot paths.
The store shelves are well-labeled with prices which you can off-load at the exit checkout conveyor checkout area when you are done shopping. The staff will take care of the scanning and packing for you. Now if only we can have this at our local NTUC or Cold Storage supermarkets.
Also you get dining tables, mixed in together with the supermarket in the habitat food court. This is similar to a “Marche Movenpick” marketplace style. On the menu are a variety of food cuisines. Let’s see what is good.
Food selections and Boston lobsters!
Food choices comprises of an international offerings. There is a desserts western grill store (Camp fire), pasta, seafood, desserts, and a couple of Asian cuisines dishing out local delicacies like Char Siew rice to Bento Sets.
Moreover, the Boston lobsters are a favorite there. It is available at $9.90 for a box of two fresh lobsters from the supermarket seafood counter. Sadly, this offer is only available for Honest Bee paid Beehive members.
Buy, cook and consume your food on-site?
Interestingly, you can simply buy your produce directly off the counters here and pay a cooking service fee to your food fresh selections cooked on the spot. It will set you back another $8 for cooking (roasting or steaming) at the grill store. This concept is also true for other selections too such as Beef steaks from the supermarket meat deli counter.
Talking about delis, there is the Camp Fire stall. Items on the menu includes rosemary chicken steak and Barramundi with Cucumber Fennel starting at $12.90. More premium Australian beef steak (180g) starts from $18 to $22 a plate. The meats are fresh and good quality which you can request to be cooked to your specifications.
Pricey Asian foods, but rest is OK
Furthermore, on the Asian platter, you get Char Cantonese roast with Roast duck to Char Siew rice or a bowl of noodle soup starting from $8, and up to $11 for their Duck Drumstick rice. I found the Chinese food offerings tad too expensive to my liking. Also, you get average-sized portions similarly found in your typical Zi Char or Celebrity roast pork restaurant, but at twice the price.
Going on that, Heng Heng Hor fun starts from $7.50 to $9.80 per plate for their more premium US prime beef Horfun. Bento tasty Asian meals ranges about $7 to $10. Humorously, you dishes are served in disposable packaging which looks quite bit like budget microwave ready-meals.
Moreover, I found their Pasta selections like Chicken Puttanesca more well-priced for the offering. A typical pasta will set you back about under $14, with items starting at about $11.50 a dish. The price range we are seeing here is comparable to that of casual restaurants range like those offered in dine-in shopping malls F&B outlets.
Great Fish and Chips
Additionally, A recommendation will be their tiger beer-battered fish and chips. For a starting price of $13.90 you get a selection of small over different fish choices more premium fish choices such as dory fish will set you back a little more at $15.90. It can be quite a filling meal with two large fish slices and serving of chips. The fish fills the entire batter with a soft core and crispy outer. It is a delightful dish.
Furthermore, to top and wash it all down you have Beers on tap. Prices are around pub prices at about the $9 -10 range for a cup (White Moustache store). Moreover, other drinks includes coffee and bubble tea, as well frozen shakes. There is also a bread bakery called the Lazy Loaf, which serves freshly-baked bread daily.
Moreover, the desserts by Poofy and Niven also are not really bad. They are a good diet-busting threat if you do not mind the pricey price-tag which comes with premium desserts.
The habitat concept
Additionally, on top of food, the supermarket also has a lifestyle shop selling hipster household appliances, books and gifts.
All these food and merchandising choices are listed on the honest bee app. Each food cuisine is categorized for each store.
Everything from your Phone App
Your phone serves as a tool to order, as well as to track the status of your order. Hence you can simply enter the habitat, find and sit at a table, make your order and collect your food when notified on-app.
Hence, it is not uncommon to see people walking around glued to their phones within the Habitat. Also, if you have a smart watch, notifications from the Honest Bee App will be recognized and sent to your watch as a handy on-wrist notification, so you won’t miss your order. This is a handy thing I love about this retail and dining concept.
Moreover, this open retail concept gave me an opportunity to take a walk to explore the various sections in the habitat, without being tethered to your table.
Feeling lost or can’t find the store to collect your food from? Simply ask any of the staff on duty. They are really helpful and will walk you to your area of interest.
Furthermore, my main gripe though is the long wait for the food. My fish and chips took about 20 minutes to be ready. Also, notably, other less popular stores like noodles average about a 10 minute wait. Moreover, the place gets noticeably crowded during weekday lunch times. But it is not overly packed. Hence, it is not difficult to find some leftover table seating.
Scan beepass QR again to exit
Lastly, when you are ready to leave, you need to bring up your personalized beehive to scan to exit. I can guess it is for metrics to determine customer stay duration. There, you pass-by an automated robotic collection area after the exit.
Additionally, remember the auto checkout conveyor point in the store? If you ordered anything in-store, you will collect your purchases here or have them home-delivered if need be. This is a similar robotic system we see used in several other e-commerce operators such as Amazon and Alibaba. They can be quite memorizing and therapeutic to watch as they zip about pre-programmed tracks, lifting the tall shelf racks as they bring your purchases to you.
Also, if you are an Honest bee beehive member, you get several discount perks. This includes a discounted member pricing. Sadly I am not an Honest bee member, so I am not sure what I am missing out. However, thankfully, you can pretty much enjoy the habitat experience without being a member, you do not lose out much being a non-member as a regular patron.
All in all, Honestbee habitat is quite a refreshing shopping concept blending both the new and traditional retail therapy. There are some quirks like member-exclusive benefits, and some food dishes I will recommend avoiding, but it does not distract from the overall pleasant experience. Food quality is decent with the fish and chips justifying a recommendation. It certainty does not disappoint.
Must Go! | Worth Trying | Shortlist Optionally | Should Avoid
Honestbee Habitat Beehive
34 Boon Leat Terrace, #01-01,
Opening hours 8am – 10pm daily
Last food order: 9.30pm.