Case Study

How Byte Smart Fridges Helped Flourish Juice Unlock a Scalable Direct-to-Consumer Sales Model

flourish juice co
flourish juice co logo

Flourish Juice Co. is a fresh juice company located in Joliet, Illinois. Founder Kaitlin Soto and her team love making healthy eating accessible through cold-pressed, raw juice and smoothies.

“When I looked at the dashboard and saw that I was making sales when I wasn’t there in person, I was like, ‘Okay, this is awesome. This is exactly what we need.’"

The Highlights

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The Challenge

Health regulations require direct-to-consumer sales for raw juice, but staffing a retail location was a expensive and time consuming. Distractions at the walk-up counter led to long hours and unsustainable schedules.

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The Solution

Find a smart fridge technology that could be used for direct-to-consumer sales. Open unattended retail locations to add sales opportunities without adding staff.

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The Result

Profitable Byte smart fridges make up 40% of Flourish’s revenue, creating the ability to scale simply and sustainably. Reduced hiring needs and walk-up counter distractions enables a more rewarding work-life balance.

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The Challenge

Flourish Juice’s retail walk-up counter was well-trafficked, but held the business back.

Kaitlin Soto’s passion for high-quality, raw juice is what makes Flourish Juice beloved among its customers. But for a long time, it was also a bottleneck to growing the business. Health regulations require that raw juice only be sold directly to consumers, and not wholesale.

“For our mission and vision of keeping the quality and nutrients intact, we didn’t want to pasteurize our juice, and we’d never put it in plastic. But that meant our only option was direct-to-consumer sales.”

A walk-up counter attached to the production space located in a local gym acted as a retail location for Flourish. It was a great space to attract targeted customers, but constant distractions at the counter kept Kaitlin’s team from fulfilling their production goals. The hiring hamster wheel kept Kaitlin working grueling hours.

“I can remember being understaffed constantly and doing everything, all at once. Making juice, packaging bottles, serving guests at the counter. I worked long hours at Flourish, then went and worked long hours at home. It wasn’t healthy for me.”

Kaitlin knew she needed to outsmart the problem, so she began looking for new ways to sell juice that didn’t require someone to stand there for every purchase.

flourish juice co vending machine
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The Solution

Scaling direct-to-consumer sales through smart fridge vending machines

Kaitlin began searching for a vending technology that Flourish could use to sell directly to consumers without requiring a person to facilitate every transaction. 

“I just knew we had to go digital. We had to automate things. Our business needed that, because I was doing too much.”

At first, Kaitlin placed a standard fridge inside a yoga studio and filled it with Flourish Juice products. She technically couldn’t sell the juice to the yoga studio, and had to use the honor system to sell to consumers from the fridge. The drawbacks of this system became apparent.

“Something would always go missing, or the numbers didn’t match up somehow. I couldn’t sit there and look through 48 hours of camera footage. Somewhere I knew someone was making a better solution that didn’t rely on the honor system.”

Soon after, Kaitlin came across Byte Technology’s smart fridges that use a point of sale and RFID tagging to automatically charge customers when they remove products from the fridge—no honor system required. Flourish Juice installed their first Byte fridge in the gym, just outside of their production space.

Kaitlin came across Byte Technology’s smart fridges that use a point of sale and RFID tagging to automatically charge customers when they remove products from the fridge—no honor system required.

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The Results

Profitable, autonomous, direct-to-consumer sales—and time in the day to spare

At first, Kaitlin and her team took shifts manning the first Byte fridge. They helped customers become familiar with swiping their card, opening the fridge, and picking out items. But they realized that most customers didn’t need much hand-holding.

“There’s this great customer named Helen who would come in almost every day. She’s a bit older, so when I saw that she was able to use the Byte fridge without problem, I knew the fridge would be really good for everyone.”

The initial Byte fridge in the gym began paying for itself immediately. 

“I looked at the revenue and expenses with my accountant. I came away from that meeting amazed that the fridge was paying for itself and more.”

Kaitlin opened a second fridge inside of the gym, near the production space. She also installed a fridge inside of the Ulta Beauty Corporate Headquarters office building. With these retail channels operating autonomously, Kaitlin closed the walk-up counter, which allowed her team to focus on production, rather than chatting with passersby. 

“I started to have a regular schedule because I wasn’t standing at the counter losing valuable time when I could have been sleeping or being with my son. I wasn’t getting home at midnight anymore.” 

Flourish Juice is on a growth trajectory that would have been impossible without the ability to scale direct-to-consumer sales, and Kaitlin knows there’s still untapped potential.

“These fridges finally allow juice companies like us to get into these places we couldn’t before, because it’s our own store. We can grow so much more.”

“We generated $79,000 from our first two Byte fridges in one year. After adding Ulta, a fourth fridge at city hall, and with a fifth fridge going into a coffee shop in Chicago, I’m projecting we’ll get up to $150,000 in sales through Byte fridges this year.”

Unlock New Opportunities.

Byte Technology helps retailers, food service operators, and vending companies sell fresh food anywhere, anytime. Reach out today to learn more about how Byte’s smart fridges can help your business grow.

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