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Retailer’s app blends grocery, foodservice

Natural Markets Food Group, an operator of both restaurant concepts and retail stores, is leveraging technology to deliver both in tandem in a mall in Toronto.

Speaking at a presentation at the National Retail Federation Big Show on Tuesday, Joshua Sigel, CIO at the Irvington, N.Y.-based company, described how the retailer’s Market Pass mobile app allows customers to shop the way they want to at the company’s Richtree Natural Market venue at Toronto’s Eaton Centre.


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The site features a 2,000-square-foot grocery store surrounded by 11 different foodservice stations occupying another 16,000 square feet. Using the Market Pass app, customers can shop from any of the stations by scanning QR codes with their phones, and can pay for as many other members of their group or their family as they like — even if they are separated within the store. Customers can then also check out from anywhere in the store that they choose.

“Group ordering was a ‘big idea,’” said Sigel. “It was something we saw that our customers wanted.”

Customers can also order via touchscreen kiosks that were built into the structural columns in the store. 

Natural Markets Food Group, which also operates the Mrs. Green’s natural stores in the U.S., worked with technology concern ThoughtWorks to develop the app.

Being a small, nimble retailer helped the company develop the solution quickly.

“Being able to pivot quickly is essential to what we’re doing,” Sigel said.

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