Nourish + Bloom Market Prepares To Potentially Open 500 Autonomous Grocery Stores

The startup’s first store opened last month and now the autonomous grocer eyes expansion with its recent partnership.
Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
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Nourish + Bloom Market has partnered with UST, a move which will allow the autonomous grocery store to be able to deploy 500-plus stores in the U.S.

The startup’s first store opened last month in Fayetteville, GA. Nourish + Bloom Market is an autonomous grocery store with robotic delivery and the “first African American owned autonomous grocery store in the world.” The 1,500-square-foot Fayetteville store stocks more than 1,500 SKUs, such as produce, meats, baked goods, dairy and prepared meals, alongside everyday grocery items with no checkout. Autonomous shopping, vending, and robotic delivery provides round-the-clock access.

The new store is the result of the unique collaboration of three technology companies, Hitachi Vantara, SHEKEL Brainweigh, and UST. UST has provided an end-to-end solution and project management services for implementing a Hybrid Frictionless Check-Out Store, enabling Nourish + Bloom Market to drive their store operations at ease in the long run.

"The idea of the store occurred to us during the pandemic,” said Jilea Hemmings, Founder and CEO of Nourish + Bloom Market. “We wanted to provide a solution for customers where they wouldn't have to wait in line or touch anything while checking out. With UST's help, we have successfully created a Hybrid autonomous technology to offer that solution and combat food insecurities in underserved communities. We are confident that this technology will change how customers shop in the next 3 to 5 years."

Customers can now shop without checkout lines and have 24x7x365 access to real food and environmentally friendly household supplies. Delivery robots named Nourish and Bloom can also deliver products in temperature-controlled compartments right at the customer's doorstep. UST's innovative digital solutions have helped design a quick retail shopping experience.

"The store uses UST Vision Checkout for large merchandise assortment outside autonomous store,” said Subhodip Bandyopadhyay, General Manager-Emerging Technology, UST.  “UST Vision Checkout is a self-checkout POS that uses Computer Vision to identify SKUs. Along with this, Voice and Gesture AI technology leads to a 3X faster checkout experience for customers of Nourish & Bloom. Hybrid autonomous store technology uses Intel's Edge optimized technology infrastructure and uses multiple Microsoft technologies including Azure Cloud."

The automated product recognition in Nourish & Bloom Market WIWO store is performed by Shekel Product Aware Technology (PAT), based on patented IoT Load sensors, AI models, and Machine Learning algorithms. SHEKEL's product identification technology enables accurate and real-time product recognition technology. Hitachi's 3D LiDAR technology enables monitoring customers and linking products to their shopping cart without compromising customer privacy.

For a breakdown of the UST retail technologies see below:

  • UST has developed the Autonomous Store in Box that has entire Retail Backoffice software, Bistro Module, and entire integration services for diverse systems, making shopping frictionless.
  • The store uses UST Vision Checkout for large merchandise assortment outside the autonomous store. UST Vision Checkout is a Self-checkout POS that uses Computer Vision to identify SKUs. Along with this, Voice and Gesture AI technology leads to a 3X faster checkout experience for customers of Nourish & Bloom. UST Vision Checkout also has bar code scanning and touch screen functionality that takes care of specific merchandise sections like age-restricted products, frozen assortment, and fruits and vegetables as well as Bistro. Nourish & Bloom has also deployed UST Scan & Go solution for specific events and customer types.
  • UST has provided UST Product Box that facilitates quick onboarding of SKUs requiring computer vision training.
  • UST Cold Truth provided IoT-based, real-time food temperature measurement at shelf level that improves store operational efficiency.
  • N&B has deployed UST Store as a Media Digital display solution in their BISTRO section. It has dynamic content display capability and comes with monetization opportunities by providing audience analytics.
  • The entire hardware and software design of UST Vision Checkout, UST Product Box, and UST Cold Truth are proprietary solutions of UST.
  • The entry to the Autonomous section is enabled by the UST-built Customer mobile app (via scanning a QR Code on the entrance turnstile). The items selected by the consumers 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 N&B market. N& B would be the first autonomous store operator in the North American market that offers Coffee and Bistro Subscription services apart from Delivery subscriptions. Further, the system provided by UST is integrated with robotic delivery systems from DAX robotics for last-mile delivery.