- Fresh Thyme Market will provide additional information about its products via scannable shelf tags in its Natural Living department starting next month, the grocer announced Tuesday.
- By scanning the ELI codes with their smartphones, shoppers and employees will be able to find product information and content from IX-ONE, an industry-wide product data and image solution. The codes can be read natively by most smartphones and won’t require an app, the company said.
- Fresh Thyme turning to scannable product tags to improve shoppers’ experiences comes amid a challenging time for specialty grocers.
Fresh Thyme is urging its suppliers to work with Cornerstone for Natural, the business management software provider behind the ELI codes. The company said it wants suppliers to upgrade their ELI codes to provide more product information with videos, images and website links,
The enhanced information available through scanning, Fresh Thyme said, will help consumers and further educate store employees so they can better explain products and their benefits to shoppers.
"By adding ELI Codes to our shelf tags, we will be helping our shoppers make better informed buying decisions in-store while allowing our supplier partners to provide digital content to best present their products to our shoppers," Jonathan Lawrence, Fresh Thyme's senior director of grocery and natural living, said in the announcement.
The new product tags join Fresh Thyme’s recent efforts to boost its appeal with shoppers. This summer, the grocer shortened its named and refreshed its logo, accompanied by an ad campaign aimed at reminding shoppers that Fresh Thyme supports their well-being. The grocer also teamed up with Shipt to offer same-day grocery delivery to 10 million households in the Midwest.
Specialty grocers have struggled to expand beyond their core markets and consumers. Fairway Market, Lucky's Market and Earth Fare filed for bankruptcy at the start of 2020. Whole Foods is struggling to revive foot traffic after in-store shopping dropped at the start of the pandemic. After closing several stores last year, Fresh Thyme exited Nebraska this month, shuttering its three remaining stores in the state.
Specialty grocers have had trouble differentiating themselves from traditional competitors and discounters, experts say. The series of changes by Fresh Thyme indicate the grocer is looking to make in-store shopping easier and make consumer-focused changes to elevate its image.