Natural Markets Food Group operates retail food and food service businesses throughout the U.S. and Canada with a focus on organic natural food products. The company is planning rapid expansion for two of their banners - Mrs. Green’s grocery and Richtree Market restaurants. Most of the expansion will come through Mrs. Green's (with 20+ locations planned for 2014 in the US and Canada). The company also operates six Planet Organic Markets in Canada. As part of their ambitious mission to compete in the world of organic grocery retail and food service, NMFG has re-imagined the business model by creating a new retail food dining and grocery concept that provides good, healthy food with efficiency and convenience.
With the explosive growth of the organic foods market, NMFG recognised early on that a new store concept would not be enough to differentiate themselves from competitors, and that they would need to leverage technology beyond back-office utility. They also recognised that a traditional solutions approach would only solve channel issues and not address the complexities of today’s customer journey. As a result, they actively sought out a partner who understood that innovation is driven by more than just technology – a partner who could help them develop a stand-apart strategy as well as design and deliver an integrated, scalable software ecosystem from the ground up. Thoughtworks was selected as that partner to deliver upon their vision.
A major challenge for this project was creating and building a software infrastructure from the ground up in time for the Richtree Eaton Centre Toronto grand opening. Eaton Centre is one of the highest trafficked malls in North America. The new Richtree location at Eaton Centre is an 18,000 square foot multi-kitchen eatery with an 1,800 square foot grab-and-go organic grocery store. The demand for fast, efficient service is critical, especially during the high volume lunchtime.
Thoughtworks’ approach to developing a pivot-friendly strategy involved an iterative experience and service design process. Consumer field research was conducted to help identify service issues and develop a solution architecture that could support multiple customer end-point experiences within their food service and retail food establishment – a concept Joshua Sigel, the CIO of NMFG refers to as "Multiplexing”
We are focused on providing our customer's value-added choice in the way they interact and experience our offering of Good Food, that's Good For You, and Good For the Earth. We partnered with Thoughtworks to help us develop a strategy and architecture that brought innovative technology and service design together to create a differentiated experience for our customers.
Natural Markets Food Group wanted to leverage technology to enhance their customer experience and drive operational efficiencies while emphasising its vast selection of quality grocery items and healthy prepared foods. An emphasis on a mobile strategy combined with extraordinary customer experience resulted in various in-store services such as mobile ordering and payment capabilities and consolidated grocery and restaurant ordering systems. The same POS solution is used in both the restaurant and grocery portions of the location—a breakthrough development, since restaurant and grocery retailers typically require separate POS software solutions.
In just five months time, the new store at Eaton Centre opened with:
- Online ordering, a mobile app, express pick-up and ordering kiosks to minimise queues and provide the customer convenient options to order and pay
- "Grouping" technology in the form of a Market Pass that allows groups/families the ability to order from different food stations while paying via a single smartphone; allowing groups to spend more time together rather than in queues
- Digital menus to facilitate customer ordering and enable the store to easily make price/menu adjustments in real time.
- A streamlined POS system with cross-platform integration that vastly improves inventory management by capturing sales in real time and eliminating the need for physical counts
- Wiki-Trainer – a live digital document for continuous, efficient POS training
For a company like us who are trying to move at a rapid speed, there aren’t many partners out there who can keep pace. Thoughtworks is one of them. We really enjoyed working with them.