Introducing Co-op groceries on demand

This week we launched the digital front-end of Co-op Food’s home delivery and collection service. Customers within the M4 postcode can now order from the Corporation Street Co-op in Manchester city centre, and our proof of concept website continues to be available from 10 stores across central London. 

screen shot of 3 different pages on the website

The service is in beta at the moment which means we’ll be watching and analysing how customers are using it with a view to rolling it out to wider postcode catchments and to other Co-op Food stores. You can see the service at

How it works

Customers order through the website. Colleagues at the local store receive a notification on the store’s tablet and gather the items in the order from the shop floor. The customer then either collects their order or one of our delivery partners picks it up and couriers it.

At the moment, there’s a minimum spend of £15 (research suggests the average spend will be around £25) and customers can choose a 1 hour delivery slot. They can also choose to receive their order as quickly as 2 hours after they ordered. Delivery is currently free.

Keeping up with competitors

Co-op Digital began researching how people shop for food last summer – much of it was qualitative and took the form of interviews and Whatsapp food diaries, but some was quantitative. For example, online behaviour on and a significant number of searches on the site suggested that customers expected us not only to have a website that allows them to browse the products we stock, but a transactional service they can buy them through. 

Until now, Co-op didn’t have the latter and we need to keep up with competitors.

The Co-op difference

But just as Co-op Food stores revolve around convenience rather than the weekly ‘big shop’, so does our delivery service.

Interviews and food diary studies from our research helped us understand that we have to remove the guilt associated with convenience shopping. For this reason our vision for groceries on demand is: 

post it note with the following written on it

Our research also showed us that Co-op is well placed to:

  • support bigger shops with fresh food ‘top-ups’
  • help those wanting to cut out a visit to a store in between finishing work, picking kids up and taking them to various after-school clubs
  • serve foodies who have their minds set on cooking a specific dish or menu rather than deciding what to cook after browsing the aisles for inspiration or offers 

On your marks, get set… shop

It’s been our team’s aspiration to design a service that allows customers to browse or search, find, choose, and buy products as quickly as possible. We’d decided that part of how we’d know whether we’d been successful would be to compare the time it took people to shop using our service with how long it took them to buy the same items through a competitor’s.

We’re expecting around 75% of transactions to be carried out on phones so we asked research participants to use their device. It typically took the small group we tested with half the time to complete the shop using the feature we’re developing as it did competitor services. 

What’s (probably) next

Based on continuous research, we’re expecting our service to be welcomed by customers – it’s what they expect from a supermarket after all. We’re looking at the analytics and we’re asking for feedback to help us improve the service continuously.

What we prioritise and work on next depends heavily on what we learn from the feedback but there are certain things we expect to add to the site at some point. These include:

  • ways to improve the experience for returning customers
  • creating a personalised shopping experience
  • expanding our beta service to more stores and replacing the proof of concept website

If you try the service, let us know what you think.

David Gregory, Delivery manager
James Rice, Lead designer

3 thoughts on “Introducing Co-op groceries on demand

  1. Jamie August 23, 2019 / 2:27 am

    Hi David & James,

    This is interesting and I’ll keep an eye out to see if I’m in the London postcode area. Have sent to a few friends in Manchester.
    I would have thought that Delivery still requires a large scale operation to be feasibly viable, which feels at odds to Co-Ops ‘lovely village store’ feel.

    If I may ask – how do you (Co Op Digital) go about the beginning of this project – are there commercial targets expected of these trials that would set it as a go/no-go for further roll-out, or is this project just to test the execution of the delivery service and concept, then bringing in commercial analysts later?
    I’m purely asking out of curiosity as to the approach (as a Digital Product Manager), I’m not looking to wean any further sensitive information.


    • David Gregory August 23, 2019 / 10:32 am

      Hi Jamie,

      Many thanks for taking the time to read the post and get in touch.

      We’re currently working with a couple of 3rd party delivery providers, who’s riders are conveniently placed to fulfil the orders picked by our store colleagues.

      At the moment our main driver is just to allow Co-op customers to shop with us in whichever way they like. We also believe that creating a good customer experience, and starting to differentiate ourselves in the market, will lead to the commercial success.

      Thanks again,


  2. Amber Greenwood September 2, 2019 / 9:44 am

    Hi David, James

    It is always of great interest to read about approaches for launching a new digital concept, especially with regards to how you have / are collating insights from the shoppers who are participating in the online delivery trial!

    As a store operations change and implementation manager currently coming to the end of phase 2 of a similar digital project to launch online click and collect, click and deliver and instore ordering into our Polish market (also from a new SAP platform), I get heavily involved in the steps we go through to reach the next milestone on our digital journey. I am always very aware that we take a great amount of time to build our products / applications, map our process flow and, in the case of the Co-op Retail Business Transformation program, obviously have some great initiatives to put the proposition in front of the customers.

    One of the more frustrating things I have had to overcome in the past is that far too often, we forget about our instore colleagues, until many decisions have already been made. Are there similar insight activities to those created for the customers that will ensure the engagement of the trial store colleagues who are at the forefront of launching changes to their existing operating model? In the same way you are seeking insight from your customers, providing a platform for the colleagues to share opinions and real-life experience goes a long way to creating a product that meets and exceeds the expectations of both internal and external customers!

    It looks as though there are some fantastic things happening in Co-op transformation, from a transactional website through to the pay in aisle app (which I hope to be able to try the next time I am in Edinburgh!)

    Keep the great ideas rolling!

    Best regards



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