The grocery store as you know it has changed. Welcome to Medley, a concept store series created by the team at The Hershey Lab. This is the third part in an ongoing series about innovation in retail. In this blog, we’re going to look at Oasis of Freshness, a personalized urban grocery experience that could change city shopping as we know it.
Imagine a bodega on a downtown corner. Now, clear off the shelves of the typical packaged items and replace them with fresh produce and meats from nearby farms, sandwiches, salads and ready-to-eat foods. Take it one step further and picture all this in a movable shipping container with a welcoming design, helpful staff and social areas where shoppers can mix and mingle with neighborhood friends while they add items to their shopping list.
Welcome to Oasis of Freshness, the tiny, urban store of the future.
You’re probably heard of “food deserts”—areas that lack grocery stores and fresh produce, where residents often have to travel long distances to find healthy food. It’s no secret that in some communities throughout the United States, fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to find. To address this challenge, the team at The Hershey Lab devised Oasis of Freshness, which is a small concept store (it doesn’t exist in cities today) tucked inside a mobile shipping container. It’s a tiny space with robust offerings—something that could stand on a neighborhood or downtown street corner, offering fresh, healthy food options for urban dwellers. It’s a pop-up store that’s 100 percent portable.
Lina Yang, Director of The Hershey Lab, explains it like this: “It’s a small footprint, but it consists of digital kiosks or digital aisles so you can maintain the variety you might find in a big box store,” she says. Oasis of Freshness is remarkably nimble, thanks to technology. Unlike your standard grocery store, Oasis of Freshness doesn’t store all inventory on site. Rather, it allows shoppers to peruse digital selections either via their app at home, where they can create a shopping list, or onsite via large interactive digital displays. Fresh staples will be available to buy on the spot and carry home, while other non-essentials populate a digital list to be fulfilled off site and delivered later that day—no more juggling!
“The small footprint keeps leasing and product costs down, while digital fulfillment and same-day delivery support the variety and convenience factors,” says Yang. And because it’s in a shipping container, it can move, as needed, to higher traffic areas and impact the greatest number of people.
It’s also a neighborhood social hub. The shipping container store will be surrounded by tables and chairs, so friends can meet up, grab ready-made food, and take care of their online shopping all at the same time.
Shopping doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore. With a little creativity and technology, healthy eating can fit into the busy schedules of city dwellers. Oasis of Freshness could put fresh choices back in town.
For more on the Medley concepts: