The Fresh Market Eschews Digital

NEW YORK — The Fresh Market employs neither digital signage nor digital ordering kiosks in its stores, preferring more labor-intensive solutions such as extra staff in the deli and handwritten chalkboards, an executive of the retailer said at the National Ret0ail Federation Big Show here Tuesday.

NEW YORK — The Fresh Market employs neither digital signage nor digital ordering kiosks in its stores, preferring more labor-intensive solutions such as extra staff in the deli and handwritten chalkboards, an executive of the retailer said at the National Ret0ail Federation Big Show here Tuesday.

"We want that customer interaction," said Marc Jones, vice president of merchandising and marketing for the Greensboro, N.C.-based operator, in response to a question from the audience. "We'd rather have more people working in the deli to provide service than use a kiosk."

In addition, he said The Fresh Market has avoided using loyalty cards because they might interfere with the retailer's efforts to make the stores "a relaxing place to shop."

The Fresh Market employs several methods to get customers to linger and "experience the food" — its company tag line — in its stores, including playing classical music, paying careful attention to lighting and creating places to linger and disrupt the "straight-line" shopping trip.

That contrasts with fellow panelist Lisa Wollan, head of consumer insights and brand strategy, Wawa Inc., who said one of that chain's goals is to get as many customers as possible in and out as quickly as possible.

Wawa is testing digital signs in four stores and plans to roll them out to another 25 this year, she said, and also deploys deli kiosks. The chain has considered loyalty cards, Wollan explained, but has not yet come up with a way to realize a strong return.