PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hoping to stimulate consumer interest in groceries as it has for wellness products, New Seasons Market's brand new store here is equipped with a food-oriented kiosk that provides shoppers with instant food information and recipes.
The new store, which opened Dec. 5, contains two informational kiosks from Healthnotes Inc., a provider of science-based information on healthy living, also based here.
Now in addition to the "Healthy Living Suite" kiosk that punctuates the small chain's other three units -- which offers information on vitamins, supplements, sports nutrition and the like -- the new store features Healthnotes' new "Foodnotes" kiosk, which provides several resources, including a food encyclopedia.
Stockpiled with more than 700 articles, Foodnotes also offers suggested cooking methods and recipes for items like fish and chicken, in addition to addressing specific health concerns like low-sodium diets and food allergies.
"The stores are not able to provide this information to customers on a consistent basis," said Schuyler Lininger, president and chief executive officer of Healthnotes.
"This allows the customer to make confident purchase decisions and can help the retailer push people toward things that are more profitable," he added.
Brian Rohter, president of New Seasons, said he believes the new kiosk will spur the sales of canned goods and other ancillary purchases, like herbs and spices.
"So far the response has been great," said Rohter, who spoke to SN a little more than 24 hours after the opening of the new store. "Customers appreciate the information and it adds to the general shopping experience for them."
Rohter said signage hanging above the unit is meant to encourage customers to give the kiosk a try, as are shelf talkers that are placed all around the store.
Unlike the Healthy Living Suites, which are typically found near the pharmacy area, the Foodnotes kiosk is located in the "apex of the food world," Rohter said, in close proximity to the store's organic bread bakery, wine department, seafood department and food-service run.
Described by Rohter as a one-stop shop for people that are heavily into natural and organic products "but who still eat Doritos and have kids that want doughnuts," New Seasons Market opened its first store in early 2000. The newest unit is about 30,000 square feet and is located in the Concordia neighborhood in northeast Portland.
In mid-July of this year a Lunds "store of the future" unit in Plymouth, Minn., was the first store to install the new Foodnotes kiosk and, according to kiosk project manager Dennis McCoy, a second was just installed in a Byerly's in Ridgedale, Minn.
In addition to the Foodnotes kiosk, the Lunds unit has kiosks that act as a product locator, a deli ordering device, a cheese, seafood, produce and wine and spirits information and recipe station and a LivingWise whole health kiosk.
Although he said it's impossible to measure return on investment of a kiosk, McCoy said the stores do track paper usage, which indicates how many recipes are being printed on a regular basis.
"This ties into our whole model of providing a sensational shopping experience," McCoy. Other retailers that have the Healthy Living Suite kiosks in their stores include Kroger, Albertson's, Wild Oats, Ukrops and Publix.
"This type of interface between technology and the center of the store will become more commonplace in the future," Lininger said, noting that between 40 and 50 customers at the New Seasons' opening utilized the Foodnotes station.