Nourish + Bloom Market teams up with UST to launch frictionless grocery stores in the US

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Feb 03, 2022

Partnership to enable opening of 500 more stores

Nourish + Bloom Market, claimed to be the world’s first African-American-owned autonomous grocery, has partnered with UST, a leading digital transformation solutions company, to launch its first frictionless grocery store in the US. 

UST has provided an end-to-end solution and project management services for implementing a hybrid, frictionless, check-out store enabling Nourish + Bloom to drive store operations at ease in the long run, a UST spokesman said here.

‘Unique’ collaboration

It draws on a ‘unique’ collaboration of Hitachi Vantara, SHEKEL Brainweigh and UST to  create an innovative and advanced system for the retail world, the spokesman said. The partnership with UST will allow Nourish + Bloom to deploy over 500 stores in the US.

Jilea Hemmings, Founder and CEO of Nourish + Bloom, said that the idea of the store had occurred during the pandemic. “We wanted to provide a solution for customers where they wouldn’t have to wait in line or touch anything while checking out.” 

UST has helped create a hybrid autonomous technology to combat food insecurities in underserved communities. “We are confident that this technology will change how customers shop in the next 3 to 5 years,” Hemmings said.

Autonomous store in box

UST has developed an ‘autonomous store in box’ that has entire retail back-office software, bistro (small restaurant) module and entire integration services for diverse systems, making shopping frictionless. 

The store uses the UST Vision Checkout for large merchandise assortment outside. UST Vision Checkout is a self-checkout POS that uses computer vision to identify stock keeping units (SKUs). 

Voice and gesture AI technology lends a 3X faster checkout experience for customers. UST Vision Checkout also has bar code scanning and touch screen functionality that takes care of specific merchandise sections. The UST Scan & Go solution has been deployed separately for specific events and customer types.

Customer mobile app

The entry to the autonomous section is enabled by a UST-built customer mobile app (via scanning a QR Code on the entrance turnstile). The items selected are automatically added to a virtual shopping cart tracked via LIDAR camera, and the information is sent to a backend software built by UST.

UST has also built the complete e-commerce application for Nourish + Bloom, the first autonomous store operator in the North American market that offers coffee and bistro subscription services apart from delivery subscriptions. 

Robot delivery systems

The system provided by UST is integrated with robotic delivery systems from DAX robotics for last-mile delivery. Subhodip Bandyopadhyay, General Manager-Emerging Technology, UST, said that hybrid autonomous store technology uses Intel’s Edge optimised technology infrastructure and uses multiple Microsoft technologies including Azure Cloud.

Customers can now shop without checkout lines and have 24x7x365 access to real food and environment-friendly household supplies. Delivery robots named Nourish and Bloom can also deliver products in temperature-controlled compartments at the customer’s doorstep. 

Keith Pickens, General Manager & Retail Domain Leader, UST, said that the UST Frictionless Solutions’ hybrid autonomous store will help Nourish + Bloom scale faster, cheaper, and better and provide significant ROI necessary for further expansion. 

Published on February 03, 2022
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