An app for members: our progress so far

In July we posted about our 10-day discovery into an app for members. Now, almost 2 months in, we’ve built the first version of the app. Here’s an update on our progress: what’s gone great, what’s not gone to plan and why we’ve changed our minds about how we’re going to trial it.

What we’re doing and why

Quick recap: one of the most common bits of feedback from store colleagues is that they’d love to see a digital version of Co-op Membership because they see members forget their membership cards and use temporary cards regularly. This prompted us to spend 10 days finding out what colleagues and members need.

Where we’re up to

We’re working with mobile app specialists Apadmi. So far, we’ve designed and built an app that will allow members to:

  1. Scan a ‘digitised’ membership card.
  2. Check their reward balances on demand.
  3. Choose a local cause for their 1% reward to go to.

This is how it looks.

Image shows three phone screens to show each thing the app can do. from left to right the first shows a log in page, the second shows a rewards balance and the third shows the total for the chosen local cause

Naturally, there are loads of ideas about what features we should include in the app but starting small helps us make sure we’re building the right thing. By putting the membership card on someone’s device, we’re creating a platform for more functionality in the future. We’ll iterate and grow as we learn how people use what we’ve built and as we test new assumptions. There are lots of opportunities we could explore that benefit the Co-op, our members and communities.

What’s gone well

1. The app’s testing well

Throughout the development of the app we’ve been testing our clickable prototypes with real members. Vicky Pipes has been leading the research and so far, the feedback has been positive. Members have been enthusiastic about how the app could change their shopping experience and have said they’ve found it simple and easy to use.

Photograph of member's hand holding phone with membership app at the checkout

2. We know what we might explore next

Chatting to users in context has also been really valuable in terms of thinking about what we might look at next. A significant number of members have mentioned they’d like to see offers and vouchers included in the app. We’ll explore this as we begin to iterate.

3. We’ve delivered more than we set out to

The team’s been super efficient and that’s meant we’ve had enough time to do more work on the local causes section of the app. Users can find and choose local causes within the app without being directed to the website. It’s a much smoother experience and this was outside of our original scope.

Alas, some things haven’t gone to plan

1.We’re missing some data

Part way into the project, we learnt that an important bit of data isn’t available to us. The data would allow us to show a member’s previous transactions in the app. This would be useful because the app shows members’ 5% reward balance so showing previous transactions would add context to that. This could be an important piece of data for future projects so we’ll work on fixing the issue. In the meantime, we’ll leave it out of the trial.

2. We’ve changed our minds on testing. Here’s why

Originally we planned to trial the app with colleagues in the shop at our headquarters in Manchester. We know the tills there can scan a mobile phone and we knew we’d be able to interview the members taking part easily. Trialling here would have been convenient but we know that our colleagues aren’t representative of our members. We realised that for the trial to be effective we needed to get the app into the hands of members in other stores to see how they interact with it and understand how it could grow.

Responding to change

Our research and insight at this early stage suggests we’re onto something. We’re learning all the time from putting ideas in front of users as early as possible, and iterating. Trialling an app like this is a powerful way to deepen our understanding of our members and how to engage with them on mobile, now and in the future. It’s this learning that will shape what comes next.

Keeping everyone informed

Membership spans the entire Co-op Group so there are many stakeholders and it’s been really important for us to work in the open to keep everyone informed. We’ve shared weeknotes, written blog posts and held regular show and tells to show exactly what we’ve been working on. We’re happy to hear feedback if you think we could do more but we hope working in this way has helped everyone understand what the trial is, and crucially why we’ve done it.

We’ll be recruiting a diverse range of members across different parts of the country to trial the app soon. 

 
Jack Sheppard
Interaction designer

Introducing ‘Open’, a series of accessibility meetups in Manchester

On Wednesday 27 September, me, Nate Langley, Becky Arrowsmith and Katherine Wastell are holding our first accessibility meetup, ‘Open’. We want to challenge the way we think and talk about accessibility.

Aptly, the meetups are open to everyone. Accessibility is something each member of a digital team should be thinking about and we’d like attendees’ roles to reflect that.

We want to encourage people to come together and talk about how they approach accessibility and begin to share what they’ve learnt when writing, designing and building services for people.

More than screen readers and colour contrast ratios

A lot of the time when we talk about accessibility we focus on visual impairment but, although an important thing to consider, there’s so much more that can affect how someone experiences something we build. There are any number, and combination, of barriers someone could come up against that we should consider. This could be visual, audible, cognitive, contextual, cultural or something we haven’t even considered before.

Let’s talk. It’ll raise awareness

Nobody sets out to purposefully make something inaccessible but a lack of awareness of accessibility issues can lead to us alienating huge groups of people. With Open, we aim to challenge current attitudes towards accessibility and begin to raise awareness of the many ways we could be excluding groups from our products and services. We’ll also be talking through ways we can reduce those barriers and make things open to everyone.

Cooperating to make things better

In the future, we hope to partner with organisations throughout the north west. We think that by cooperating, we can raise standards and bring accessibility to the forefront of what we do.

If you have an interest in accessibility and making things better, get in touch. We’ll be looking for speakers for future meetups.

You can follow Open on Twitter.

Jack Sheppard
Open

Open 01 will be at Federation House at 6.30pm on 27 September. Get your free ticket now.