Seamless Autonomous Entry Was Key to Successful Patron Experience at Nourish + Bloom Neighborhood Market
Seamless Autonomous Entry Is Key to Successful Patron Experience at New Nourish + Bloom Market
Nourish + Bloom Market (N+B) owners and creators Jamie Michael and Jilea Hemmings are on a mission to make eating healthy and convenient. Their store, located in Fayetteville, Ga., is the first autonomous grocery store with robotic delivery in the United States and the first African American owned autonomous grocery store in the world. N+B provides 24-hour access to healthy food in a frictionless technology-based environment. While there are employees in the store overseeing general operations, basic functions like patron entry and exit, shopping, and payment experiences have been designed to operate without necessitating human interaction. What N+B needed was an automated optical turnstile entry solution that enabled customers to easily enter their store, quickly grab what was needed, and exit freely.
SES Integration is an entry systems expert located in Atlanta, Georgia. They specialize in the design, installation, and support of a wide range of entry solutions. SES deploys enterprise-wide holistic entry solutions in healthcare, manufacturing, distribution, and sports and entertainment. SES typically works with clients who are looking to reduce staff and operating costs through automation.
According to Ben Scott, General Manager at SES integration, SES was initially introduced to the N+B concept on paper and quickly arranged a site visit to see the autonomous grocery store first-hand to better understand their needs.
“During our first visit to the N+B site, we saw an empty room with a storefront,” said Scott. “The owners knew they needed a turnstile at the store’s entry/exit point and walked us through the space so we could better understand [the owner’s] vision and match the right turnstile solution to their needs. They ran down their checklist, showing us the layout of the store, the electrical schematics, and all the pertinent details of their vision for the N+B patron experience in this store and their future expansions across the country.”
“We don’t always have the opportunity to understand the full vision of our customer up front,” said Scott. “as many jobs are very focused on solving the problem-of-the-moment. Going in with the knowledge that this wasn’t a one-off project, but the foundation to realize a long-term vision, gave us the freedom to integrate more easily with electricians and other construction service professionals to make the entire project come together as a truly integrated solution. There were no change orders, we just worked with the business owners and solved problems along the way as a team.”
To achieve the stated goals, SES knew that N+B needed an access solution that could authenticate patrons using a QR scanner to scan codes from a patron’s smartphone. N+B worked with UST to develop an app that would generate these codes, hold the patron’s credit card information, and apply payment once the patron exited the store. The key to initiating the tracking of each patron throughout their shopping experience was a turnstile solution to trigger the process.
With the blessing of the business owners, SES Integration ultimately chose Alvarado’s SU5000HA optical swing barrier turnstile knowing it would integrate with the required scanning components and most importantly, provide a secured entry and exit point for patrons. The integrator also helped N+B source and install a Tap & Go credit card feature from Farpointe Data. In addition, SES and Alvarado provided tech support teams to support the creation of an intricate, custom solution to integrate the QscanT to a Raspberry Pi device.
“While most companies would have installed only the turnstile and relied on others to integrate the technology, we took charge and spearheaded the collaborative efforts between multiple vendors to ensure project success,” said Scott.
“The SU5000 enabled us to install the turnstile as part of an integrated solution without worrying about it being a failure point,” said Scott. “If the turnstile is down, store operations could be compromised. The system had to be bulletproof.”
Scott emphasized that the SES/Alvarado partnership was critical in achieving the N+B vision.
“We were able to see the store go from bare bones to stocked shelves with patrons lined up out the door during the grand opening,” said Scott. “Usually access hardware does not get a lot of attention, but in this case the turnstile was key to the success of Nourish + Bloom. Once we successfully navigated the technology integration requirements the actual installation took only two days to complete, and the system has worked without issue from day one.”
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