Here’s to 2016 – a very good start

In the past few weeks, I’ve heard product teams present their work to representatives from the Members’ Council, to our Group Board and to the rest of the Co-op Digital team. It was a great reminder of how much we’ve achieved in the past year thanks to the support, challenge and expertise of our colleagues from across the Co-op Group.

In April, I presented the Co-op Digital team’s plans to the Group Board. We said we’d focus on 4 things: Membership, Products, Platforms and Ventures. We’re on target and within budget.

Here’s a recap of some of the progress we’ve made this year.

Our new ‘old’ brand

In May we revealed our new branding. We reverted to a brand identity rooted in the Co-op’s history. We were ‘back to being Co-op’. So far we’ve rolled the redesign out across 558  locations, 153 Co-op Funeralcare homes and 2,000 own brand products. In August our rebranded carrier bags even made it onto The Guardian’s weekly fashion trends. Being fashionable isn’t our goal, but it’s nice to be noticed!

Picture of Co-op Food Store in Shoreditch

We relaunched Membership

We rolled out the new Membership to 3,000 colleagues in our support centre in June; 70,000 colleagues in July; and over 3 million active members in September. We sold 120,000 new Membership cards within 72 hours when we launched Membership in September – without advertising. Since then, 339,000 members have joined. The Co-op now has almost 4 million active members. We’re being transparent and publishing Membership data every week.

Co-op Membership is good for both members and their communities. Each time members buy Co-op branded products or use certain Co-op services they get 5% back on what they spend. Members can also choose a local cause through our online service and 1% of what they spend will go towards supporting it.

We’re listening to what our members want. Over the past few months, more than 12,000 members have signed up online to join in and give feedback on our products, our stores and their shopping habits. We’ve hosted 29 ‘join in’ opportunities and we’ve been engaging with members online and in their communities. Members have given us over 770 hours of their time. And listening to them makes a difference: sales of wine recommended by members are up by 25%.

Picture of our new Co-op Membership card.

The new domains are live

We’ve improved our websites. Colleagues no longer have to be at work to access information about working here. Instead they can do it by visiting coop.co.uk/colleagues from home. Last week we blogged about how we’ve made co-operative.coop better – a really significant step to being able to respond to and meet members’ needs quickly.

Thank you to Nick Crofts, President of our National Members’ Council, for helping us understand the members’ perspectives about what the sites needed to be.

We’ve developed digital products

Some of the products the Co-op Digital team has worked on this year include:

These products help our colleagues work more efficiently and make it easier for customers to do things like make a will.

Colleagues like Claire Carroll and Cathryn Higgs from Co-op Food, James Antoniou at Co-op Legal Services (CLS), and Robert MacLachlan who runs Co-op Funeralcare have challenged and championed the digital teams who have worked on product alphas and betas. Thank you for your help.

The Co-op Digital Wills team worked closely with James Antoniou’s CLS team. Together, they launched the Wills beta in August and it already makes up around 25% of CLS’s Wills business. The Co-op Digital team is now in the process of handing over the daily running of the beta to CLS.

The Funeralcare at-need service is giving our Funeralcare colleagues more time to spend with clients. They’re building products that make it easier for Funeralcare colleagues to do their paperwork and give them more oversight of the different aspects of arranging a funeral. Our colleagues in Bolton are already using the service and we’re rolling it out to more funeral homes in Edinburgh in 2017. Redesigning an entire service around people’s needs could not have been done without the support of our colleagues across the Funeralcare business.

We’ve worked with design agency UsTwo to build Product Finder and the Store Dashboard for the Food business. Product Finder is now helping our call centre colleagues give customers product information quickly, over the phone. It’s been saving each colleague around 7 hours per week. During the alpha, small groups of colleagues had access to the Store Dashboard too. It gives them up-to-date information about delivery times as well as other information they need to do their jobs. It’s giving store managers up to 10% more time to spend on the shop floor. Both products show what digital can do for the Co-op colleagues and customers.

Screen shot of the Product Range Finder. A map view of stores that stock a chosen product

We’ve also been working with tech start up provenance.org, to see if it’s feasible for the us to collect accurate, verifiable data about food supply chains and track food products at scale. The Co-op has always been committed to transparency about food, from the time of the Rochdale pioneers through to championing Fairtrade. In the digital age, trust will come from transparency.

The products work isn’t over. We’ll keep building products and services that make things easier and more efficient for our colleagues, members and customers in 2017.

Platforms and Ventures

Platforms and Ventures are the next stage of the digital approach I presented to the Board earlier this year. Federation House, home to many of our product teams, is the foundation of this work. Emer Coleman and Claire Braithwaite are making The Federation an innovative and ethical place where digital people can draw on each other’s skills to build sustainable businesses. We’re talking to several start ups about joining us, and will have more to share in 2017.

A product team updates Co-op Digital colleagues on its last 2 weeks in the auditorium at Federation House

Multidisciplinary teams, co-operating

And we’re building a great team. People who have been at the Co-op for a while, working with people who are new to the Co-op, and with co-operators and people outside of the Co-op who share our values. We have so many talented people working with us to do the right thing.

Thank yous

Thank you to Nick Croft, the President of the Council who’s helped us work with the Council and their working group. Thanks also to the Group Board which has given us the time and space to deliver during a very busy phase. Thank you to our business unit leaders who have collaborated and co-created the products we’ve delivered to achieve the best outcome for our members. Finally, thank you to the Co-op Digital teams for all your hard work.

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2017. Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

We’re looking for people to join the team.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

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