Client Center Stage: Sinclair

Our Clients Are Rock Stars

Every now and then we like to put one client on a pedestal and talk about their amazing project and the ways in which we helped them achieve their business goals through technology.

We’ve worked with clients in a number of different industries; from education and social media platforms to manufacturing and real estate, we’re experienced in many verticals. For this discussion, the industry is Agriculture—specifically, fruit and vegetable labeling. Today’s spotlight will be on our client Sinclair and their Clair + Produce Scanner mobile application.

Clair + Produce Scanner = Education and Food Transparency

The Clair + Produce Scanner from Sinclair is a free mobile app designed to help growers expand their brand reach and help consumers know more about the fruits and vegetables they purchase.

When grocery shopping, simply use Clair to scan the PLU sticker on your favorite fruit or vegetable. The easy-to-read interface will immediately reveal the name of the variety and its geographic source. Participating growers can use this application as a powerful platform to share additional detail.

Discerning shoppers can use Clair to learn more about where their food came from, who grew it and how they grew it. By linking to the website of the grower, Clair can inform shoppers whether an item has been grown organically or with pesticides, for example. And there’s no reason to stop there. A grower could include practically any information that consumers find helpful, such as nutritional data, the history of that variety, or even cooking tips.

Sinclair believes in growing relationships and supporting healthy dialogue about food. Developing the Clair + Produce Scanner has been an important step in pursuing its long-term vision of education and food transparency.

The Project

When Sinclair was founded, the majority of produce branding was on the crate in which it arrived. Individual fruits and vegetables had no identity. Sinclair pioneered the development of automatic, high-speed, food-safe, labeling systems for individual pieces of fresh produce.

Today, though Sinclair still sells labels, it is actually a provider of information that just happens to appear on a produce label. The global perspective of Sinclair’s leadership helped them recognize early on the need to get in front of the growing demand for product information and to provide its customers with a powerful new marketing channel that lets them communicate directly with the consumer.

Sinclair met with Shift3 to discuss the possibilities of building a smartphone app on both iPhone and Android platforms that would make it easy for growers to upload engaging content about their product and even easier for consumers to scan a label to discover that content.

The Solution

Shift3 worked closely with Sinclair to scope out their overall plan for the application build, which included all of their requested specifications.

Sinclair ultimately wanted their new mobile application to do the following:

  • Use the device’s native camera to scan barcodes and redirect users to the barcode content
  • Contain a separate database for storing promotional content with fields including Product Lookup Number, Variety, Size and Country of Origin
  • Accommodate multiple grower user roles and permissions through secure login
  • Allow consumers to create an account
  • Feature user-specific dashboards, intuitive UX/UI and simple navigation
  • Support future functionality, including video and augmented reality content

Though Sinclair is a huge player in its industry, it is not a household name. Rather than brand the app with its corporate identity, Sinclair instead decided to create a friendly mom-like persona, not unlike Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Siri.

They called it Clair. The Clair + Produce Scanner is now a free mobile app available for download in Google Play and Apple app stores.

I looked for talent across the country, but I really liked the idea of working locally. I wanted a team that was going to be organized, communicated their process clearly, and maintained a seamless back-and-forth between our companies. I also wanted to make sure the vendor had skills with the critical data we are sharing. I especially wanted a team that was as excited and engaged about the idea as we were. Shift3 absolutely delivered on all fronts.”

Scott Howarth – Sinclair Director of Research and Development

The Benefits of Usage

Today, any consumer can use Clair if they want to find out more about a vegetable or piece of fruit at their local grocery store. This platform provides an exciting value-add for Sinclair customers: a new marketing channel to introduce and differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. Their brands have an opportunity to gain market share by providing increased transparency and meaningful content.

With Clair, there are no ads. No data mining. Grower and consumer information stays secure in the cloud. Any shopper who wants to know more about the produce in their store can simply use their smartphone camera. No need to type in a query. A quick scan is all it takes to deliver valuable content and web links.

Retailers are also potential beneficiaries of the Clair app. They have a unique opportunity to inform customers about food origins and safety. As information translates into new sales, retailers could use store-level insights to better target offerings and refine marketing programs.

Overall Impact on Sinclair and Its Users

An exciting feature of the Clair platform is that it will only get better and better. As the number of participating growers increases, the quantity and quality of information will also improve. It’s not unlike the beginning of the world wide web. Back in the early days of the internet, having a company website was an exotic project for major corporations. It took deep pockets and expertise to pull off. Now, having a web presence is a prerequisite for doing business large or small—and it is also comparatively easy and inexpensive to build. Soon, adopting food transparency strategies will no longer be optional.

As agricultural information proliferates, growers will find there’s an expectation to provide it and also use it internally to develop innovative strategies. In addition, better food tracing will mean better food-borne illness tracing. It could help prevent food contamination and associated outbreaks of diseases such as E. coli. This would in turn have the knock-on benefit of minimizing food waste. In the event of a food safety scare, there would be far less food needing to be thrown away.

The more transparent our food system becomes, the more those companies that do reveal information will have a competitive advantage. As transparency increases, it becomes a necessity. This isn’t going to happen overnight, but the direction is unmistakable. And it’s a win for just about everyone involved.

How Can We Help Optimize Your Business?

We partnered with Sinclair to build a mobile application to help them optimize their brand, create an informative and necessary user experience for consumers, and enable growers to develop a competitive edge. How can we help you optimize your business with technology?

If you think custom software can help you impact your business or market, schedule a free consultation here. Not sure what questions to ask for your first meeting with a custom software firm, use this handy dandy guide!

This post was written by Celeste A. Barron, Content Development Manager for Shift3 Technologies. You’ll find her meticulously bouncing between political rage on Twitter and her happy place on TikTok.

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