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How technology is enhancing the human experience at Nourish + Bloom Market

September 2, 2022
Digital transformation
Retail

Jilea Hemmings

Co-Founder, Nourish + Bloom Market
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Nourish + Bloom
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The sudden interest in frictionless technology solutions was the perfect launchpad for us, and we were excited to lead the way.

When we set up Nourish + Bloom Market, we had a simple ambition in mind. We wanted to provide access to affordable food in a convenient way in order to make people’s lives better. It should be easy, right? But the fact that food deserts exist in the US shows that it’s not always straightforward.

When we spotted an opportunity to launch a grocery store in Trilith, we decided this was our chance to bring our two passions – healthy food and technology – together to create something truly innovative.

We put technology at the heart of our solution right from the start because we knew it would allow us to deliver to our customers more efficiently and increase the reach of who could access the healthy, fresh food on offer. We also knew that the data-driven feedback loop would be critical to our success: understanding customer buying habits would allow us to better customize our offering to their needs.

A human connection

People often talk about the acceleration of digital technology unleashed by the pandemic. The sudden interest in frictionless technology solutions was the perfect launchpad for us, and we were excited to lead the way.

We heard that 80% of consumers preferred to shop in a touchless format, a shift that was driven by the pandemic. Retailers must adapt to this new trend of frictionless shopping, if only to navigate staffing shortages and supply chain issues. Frictionless solutions are the future.

Of course, not everyone is crazy about the idea of autonomous shopping. It’s still a new idea, and many brands are finding their feet. Autonomous stores can feel cold and disconnected. People might be reluctant to hand over their data to faceless machines, and they miss the human contact.

It was important to us that Nourish + Bloom Market would be warm and welcoming – that the technology would work with the human element to improve the experience, not compromise it. We knew people had to feel comfortable with the technology if they were to trust it.

So, at Nourish + Bloom Market, there are employees on hand to help, or just to say hi. The store is designed to be welcoming, to look like your pantry. Customers are happy to interact and willing to give us their information because we’ve built that human connection, and they see the benefit.

A hub for the community

We know we are improving lives because we see smiling faces. People can jump in and out to get what they need more efficiently than in a standard store – but they’re just as willing to hang out. The store has become a hub for the community.

It was important to us that our solution didn’t leave anyone out. We hoped that customers would adopt this new way of shopping and we were concerned that customers who were tech-adverse would shy away from it.

Customers tell us that, at first, they were nervous about this new way of shopping – they felt like they were stealing! Now, they don’t want to shop any other way. We see kids enjoying the technology but – perhaps more of a surprise – our older customers love it, too, once they see how simple it is.

We make sure there’s always a team member on hand to help step customers through the process at least once. I’d recommend this approach to any business with plans to establish frictionless solutions. Very quickly, you see your customers become pros and even ambassadors for the business. We call these customers our VIPs.

Far from replacing employees, the technology has made our team’s lives so much more efficient, too. All the basic, repetitive elements of their jobs are taken care of, so they’re free to focus on delivering a wonderful customer experience. The retail industry is changing, and our employees are getting ahead by learning a new skill set.

Fitting into their lives

It’s not all about the in-store experience, of course. More people are ordering online than ever before. We know that, in order to reach our customers and gain their loyalty, it is imperative to give them a multimodal shopping experience. Our customers can shop online through our app or in-store utilizing our frictionless technology. They can come in the store to pick up online orders or have their purchases delivered by one of our robots. We’re here to fit into their lives.

This joined-up, tech-driven approach brings so many benefits to our business and our suppliers. We learn in real time what is selling well, inventory needs, and how we can better tailor our product offering to customer needs.

We’ve challenged the theory that technology is set to wipe out community retail. On the contrary, Nourish + Bloom Market has made a positive impact on our local community. Customers are excited to have a tech-forward grocery store in their neighborhood; many residents bring their guests to show it off.

We’ve got big ambitions for Nourish + Bloom Market, but we’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far. We’ve shown that technology can enhance the human experience and bring people together.

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Nourish + Bloom
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We believe in the power of technology to engineer a better future. Learn more about UST and our approach.

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