Publishing data on Membership

At the Co-op AGM 2016 we said that we’re going to use digital to make membership stronger and more vibrant.

Since then we’ve been engaging with members online and in their communities to give as many people a voice as possible. We shared the data we’d found around our active members once we’d defined what ‘active’ means back in August.

Part of the reason for publishing that data is to be clear on where we’re starting from. We can use these numbers to find out how much stronger and how much more vibrant the new Co-op membership is, and how engaged people are with it.

The data we collect belongs to all of us – that’s the nature of a co-operative. This is why we’ve created a Co-op Membership Data page where you can see:

  • the number of active members
  • the number of new members
  • how much our members have earned for themselves and local causes
  • how much members have spent in the core business

Screen grab of the Membership data page showing 3.92 million active members and 303,000 new members. Members have earned 9.72 million pounds worth of rewards and 26.6% of our food turnover is from our members

We’ll update the numbers every week and blog regularly about the progress we’re making.

Rufus Olins – Chief Membership Officer
Mike Bracken – Chief Digital Officer

Engaging with members online and in their communities

Last week, Alex blogged about the ways members are giving feedback through the opportunities on the Membership website. Members are already talking to us about existing products, ideas for new ones and ways we can improve their experience. Since September when we launched the new membership:

  • over 800 members have been helping our local sourcing team find the best British beers by suggesting local ales they want their Co-op to stock
  • 1300 members helped our food teams by answering questions about their favourite pizza toppings, bases and sauces
  • over 1000 members have helped the Co-op Brand team explore our baby ranges, pet food and Free-From range

We’ve always had a range of online opportunities that members can get involved in, but recently the Member Voice team have been organising offline opportunities within local communities that members can sign up to through the Membership website. The aim of the research is the same but it’s more personal and often more in depth. And often more fun!

Visiting members in their communities

One of the most useful ways to gather information on members and their relationship with the Co-op is to visit them. Me, Mark Robinson-Field and Jo Warburton from the Member Voice team have been out in communities, getting members together or catching up with them in their routines.

Dog walking in Wales

With the help of the local Member Pioneers and Deb Wozencraft, the Co-op Engagement Advisor covering Wales, we organised dog walks in Wrexham and Machynlleth. We wanted to find out about our members’ pet food buying habits so we could see if we’re meeting their needs. We asked them where they buy dog food and what type they go for, whether the Co-op is their first point of call or more of a top-up shop. We also asked whether they buy doggy treats from us.

Members and their dogs outside the Co-op store in Wrexham before the dog walk.

Baby talk in Didsbury

We also dropped in on a parent and toddler group in Didsbury to talk to members about their shopping habits when it comes to their children.

We asked parents to arrange cardboard cut-outs of various, unbranded baby/toddler products on a shelf. It helped us understand what they need from their local Co-op and which products, in which size packs, would be make their experience easier and quicker.

Activity completed by parents in Didsbury. Image shows the types of baby products parents would like to see stocked in their local Co-op.

It takes time, but it’s worth it

We’ve found that this kind of contextual research is invaluable because we get to see a slice of people’s lives. It helps us understand more about their lives, how we fit into them and how we can meet their needs better.

Members have been phenomenally generous with their time in supporting their Co-op. In fact, since September members have given over 780 hours of their time to making their Co-op better, that’s 33 days!

Members can visit to find out how they can make their local Co-op better for their community. If you’d like to become a member you can sign up for membership.

Our member voice team is growing. If you think you can help us understand and enhance the impact of our Join in activities, why not find out more and apply today?

Terry Mcleod

Looking for different ways members can get involved with Co-op

Recently we started looking at different ways in which our members can get involved with our Co-op and share their opinions. Some examples of what members have supported so far are:

To get involved, members simply go to Co-op Membership and find something they’d like to join in with. 

Screen shot of the local causes areas of our website
Co-op Membership 

Not everyone is confident with digital channels and there’s a perception that it’s only young people who will embrace things like this. It would be a shame if that was the case, because the invitation to participate is open and relevant to all our members.

To make sure that we’re including as many our of members as possible we’re keeping an eye on the sign-up data. Using this we’re learning what we can do better.

This data is handled anonymously, sensitively and securely. This is about us using data for the benefit of our members to help us to be an inclusive Co-op.

I had a look at some of the data and plotted the following histograms of the ages of Members who signed up for the opportunities listed at the start of this post:

An image showing co-op Member ages and sign up's to our Join In initiative

To me, this data tells us we’re attracting members from a wide range of ages. The different opportunities themselves are appealing to different ages too. There’s a lot more to be said about this data but I’ll leave it there for now and welcome readers to comment.

Alex Waters
Data Science


Local causes and location

Charlotte King recently talked about the changes that we’ve made to make it easier for our members to select a local cause to support with their 1%. I’ve been looking at those local causes, what type they are and where they are in the United Kingdom.

Image showing the spread of local causes being helped by Co-op Members

This image is a scatter plot of those local causes that our Co-op Members are supporting when they buy products and services from us. 

This shows the relationship between the people who live in the UK and the Co-op. The Co-op is supporting local causes right across the nation so where there’s a community, there’s likely to be a good cause that our members are supporting.

What do the colours represent?

When a local cause applies to receive support, they’re asked to classify themselves into a category like ‘Health’ or ‘Environment’ and the colours above are distinct for each category.

I’d love to give you an interactive map where you can explore the data for yourselves but I can’t do that today so instead, I’ve done some exploring for you. 

This scatter plot below just has the categories Health (yellow) and Community Development (purple).

Image showing the spread of local causes being helped by Co-op Members

Both types are widely spread but something I noticed was that there seems to be a split between the urban centres of Greater London and Northern England. London appears to be more densely covered by Health causes whereas places like Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Leeds, Tyneside are more balanced with Community Development causes.

Here’s another plot, this time with Social Inclusion (black) and Young People (blue).

Image showing the spread of local causes being helped by Co-op Members

Social Inclusion causes seem relatively concentrated in certain areas of the country. These tend to be the main cities. Causes within the category of Young People are both numerous and well spread, there seems to be a nation wide concern for causes that will help the next generation. 

Don’t forget we’re looking for the next round of good causes to support in May 2017, the closing date for applications is 16th December.

Alex Waters
Data Science.

Making it easier for Members to choose a local cause

I’m Charlotte and I’m an Agile Business Analyst working on the Membership service.

Since launch of our new Membership, one of the things that we noticed was that the number of our members selecting a local community cause to support with their 1% was lower than we expected.  

We looked at what the analytics were telling us

  • 30%  of total members clicked through to the causes page from the member dashboard.
  • 72% of new members were clicking through to causes.
  • 64% of members visiting the causes page then went on to select a local cause.

Statistics from 21/9 – 18/10 from Google Analytics.

We listened to what our members were saying

“I want to support the cause I saw in my store not one of the three you have shown me”.

“I don’t understand how the funding cycle works”.

“I don’t understand why I am being shown these causes”.

Feedback from 21/9 – 18/10 from user research/feedback form.

We identified some key outcomes

  1. Increase members understanding of the cause selection process.
  2. Increase members understanding of the funding cycle.
  3. Increase click through rate from the member dashboard to causes for new members.
  4. Increase the number of members selecting a cause to support.

What changes did we make?

We added new content onto on to the website explaining the funding cycle and how the causes were selected.

Screen shot of the local causes areas of our website

 We now display the cause that a member is supporting on their membership dashboard.

Screen shot of the local causes areas of our website

We ask members to check their address if they didn’t have any local causes displayed. 

We improved the site by simplifying the information displayed within each of the cause summary panels and removing the support button to make the whole panel clickable.

Screen shot of the local causes areas of our website

We improved each cause profile page to include the button and changed the call to action from “Support” to “Back this project”, making it more meaningful.

Screen shot of the local causes areas of our website

We’ve improved the journey for members so that they are able to navigate to a cause profile page by using the URL. This will allow causes to promote themselves (and their URL) and allow our marketing emails to promote specific URL’s.

What difference has this made so far?

  • We’re now averaging 19% click through rate (of total members) to the causes page from dashboard (decrease of 11%).
  • However we’re seeing an average of 79% click through rate for new members clicking through to the dashboard (increase of 7%).
  • 76% of members visiting the causes page go on to select a local cause (Increase of 12%).

Statistics from 18/10 – 11/11 from Google Analytics.

You can see that the total number of members clicking through to causes has decreased. We expected this to happen as a direct result of us displaying the cause that a member is backing on their dashboard. The number of new members clicking through to causes has increased by 7% which was one of our measures of success. Those members that do click through to causes, are 9% more likely to support one of the local causes.

It look’s like our changes have made a positive impact to date. It will be interesting to to see how these figures change when we give members the option to support a different community with their 1%. This functionality will be coming shortly.

Don’t forget we’re looking for the next round of good causes to support in May 2017.

Charlotte King
Agile Business Analyst

New Membership and social media

Just like our Membership contact centre, our social media community management team have been busier than usual with the launch of our new membership. We’ve been helping thousands of members and customers understand more about it since it launched on 21st September.

Our team are based in Manchester at 1 Angel Square and between us work 365 days a year (yes, Christmas day too) and have around 20,000 social conversations with members, customers, and colleagues each month. We’re not alone though, colleagues in our Food and Insurance customer service teams help us out too.

A picture of the social media team

Membership launch day saw our usual social inbox traffic increase by 80%, with members sharing which local cause they’d selected to receive their 1% with us. They were also asking us questions about how it all works.

The main topics of conversation we’ve been having with members, and the answers to their questions, are:

  • How do I nominate an alternate Co-op cause, to receive my 1%?

Our colleagues chose their community’s 3 Co-op causes for launch, but we’ll be asking members for their nominations on our next round of causes, very soon.

  • Where is my card and does my old card work in the interim?

All cards are being posted to members currently and will be with members by mid-October. Old cards work in the interim meaning the 5% and 1% is being earned already.

  • Does the 5% replace the dividend?

The 5% doesn’t replace the ‘divi’, membership points will still be accrued in the usual way on the total spend (not just Co-op branded products and services) and a ‘divi’ will be paid out again once our rebuild projects conclude in a couple of years.

  • How does the 5% and 1% work in independent co-operative society businesses?

The 5% and 1% can’t be earned on transactions with independent co-operative society businesses, but membership points still accrue. If that independent co-operative society makes an annual profit and pays a divi, it’ll be paid to members by us, on the independent society’s behalf.

I’ve been really excited by the level of intrigue among our members on social, members who perhaps hadn’t considered the Co-op as a different way of doing business before.

Members, like our colleagues, recognise something different is happening at the Co-op, and we’re just getting started.

Jordan McDowell
Senior Social Media Community Manager

Co-op Membership after 2 weeks

It’s been over 2 weeks since we launched our new Co-op Membership. During this time over 2,000 members have given us feedback on how they’re finding Membership and in particular using the Membership website.

Picture of our new Co-op Membership card.

As a product manager working on Membership, feedback from our Members is really important. We’re using this, along with analytics. The analytics show us general user behaviour which we’re using to help to determine the areas to prioritise. As a direct result of this we’re making lots of changes to the service.

Derek Harvie
Derek Harvie – product manager – Membership

Some members said that they weren’t sure how to carry out some self-service tasks, such as updating their address or ordering a replacement card. So, we made the labels of the links clearer. This is important to get right because the majority of calls to our contact centre and questions on social media are about tasks just like these.

Some new members joining our Co-op for the first time said that it wasn’t clear what would happen after registration. Were they fully registered? Would they get a new card? So, we have updated the registration “flow” on the membership website to include a full welcome email that gives information about when their new card will be posted, and confirm their account has been fully registered.

Thank you to every member who’s taken the time to feedback already. Hopefully you’ll see that we are listening to this and you can see the changes we’re making to make Membership better for everyone.

Derek Harvie
Product Manager


New Co-op membership starts today

Our new membership begins today. Our members will earn 5% back on all own brand purchases and 1% for their community. 

Picture of our new Co-op Membership card.

From today we’re posting 250,000 cards daily to members.  Every member will receive theirs by mid October.

If you’ve been following our blog you’ll know that we started with a trial for 750 colleagues in our support centre, followed by a beta for our 68,000 colleagues and council members which began in July.

58,000 cards have been used over the summer, generating over 550 pieces of feedback which fed directly into improvements to the service. This membership activity by Co-op colleagues earned them £323,278 (the 5%) and £79,222 (the 1%) for their communities.

Ten things we’ve learned 

  1. One of our biggest challenges was getting users to set up their new online account set up with username and password. The challenge is matching member’s data so they can identify their account. Colleagues found this hard so we’ve made the journey more intuitive.
  2. We want to hold open and honest consent and be a trusted data handler of our members’ data. We’ve been testing the best way to explain this to give members confidence and have made some improvements to the journey.
  3. We’ve added 4,050 local causes across over 1,400 communities in the UK. We’ve found that what matters most is different in each community and there are some great things our colleagues are doing already. We learned how best to allow members to select causes. There’s a lot more to do here though, including how we allow members to search for different causes – this is coming soon.
  4. A lot can change in the 3 month period during which we manufactured our new membership cards. A member might leave the Co-op or have passed away in that time. We’ve done everything we could to be sensitive to our members’ circumstances, and to try do the right thing.
  5. Through the beta we found that we’d configured the service alerting too heavily on certain aspects. We’ve now focused more more on the end-to-end service monitoring so we can clearly see the journey our members go on, and respond quickly when things aren’t as they should be.
  6. We’ve made massive changes in our incident and release management process. Implementing ChatOps as well as making release management self service so our teams can act and make improvements autonomously and frequently.
  7. Working closely with our colleagues in our contact centre has helped us to understand and respond to issues rapidly. 
  8. We’ve made some significant improvements in the resilience and performance of the platform. This has significantly reduced our transaction time: for example registering a new member at colleague launch took 3.5 seconds, but it’s now down to 1.1 seconds for today’s launch. 
  9. We’re removed our programme management layer that helped us to get to colleague launch and are now operating with teams led by product managers. We’re set up for our delivery teams to deliver iteratively and often. We’re continuing to develop our product roadmap for the months ahead, and have already set up a new delivery team for new services we’ll launch to our members in 2017.
  10. Colleagues are very keen to start explaining the new rewards to our members.

The whole organisation has been involved, working like a true co-op, in making our new membership a reality, right from store to support centre to development teams to service management. 

Thank you to everyone.

Nathan Warner – Senior Programme Manager – Membership
Dave Johnson – Director of Engineering



Join In

We’ve been working with our members to understand more about how they’d like to play a more active role in the Co-op they co-own. As Mike said at the AGM, elections and motions are one (very important) thing but digital makes it easier for members to have a say on the products and services that they actually consume too.

We completed a number of experiments throughout July where we learned from members about the sorts of things they want to get involved with. We’ve purposely started small with simple ways to join in so that we can learn really quickly about what works and what we could do better.

A picture of the member voice team

We’ve called this Join In. At the moment it’s a series of opportunities for members to choose and sign up for. We’ve made this available to colleague members who are using the new Co-op Membership, and right now for example they’re able to help design pizza toppings along with Sara Gunn our chilled pizza buyer.

So far, 165 colleague members have signed up and 45%  have gone on to participate in the activity. The response that we’ve had so far has been really valuable to our business owners.

This is only the start of how we improve the ways our members can get involved in our Co-op and this will keep growing over the coming months as we continue to listen and learn what matters most to them.

Charlotte King
Project Manager, Member Voice

Appointment of Chief Membership Officer

We’re delighted to let you know that Rufus Olins will be joining us in October as Chief Membership Officer. This is a new role created on the Group Executive to develop and deliver our new Membership.

With just a few weeks until we launch new Membership to our members there really couldn’t be a more important time to make sure we’re all focused on delivering an engaging, compelling and unique membership offer. Having Rufus in the team will help us achieve this.

Rufus is currently Chief Executive of Newsworks where he has been leading the transformation of that organisation into a digitally enabled membership body representing an important part of our daily lives.

Rufus has also been a senior business correspondent at the Sunday Times, Editor of Management Today and run a series of businesses.

Rufus will work closely with the Member Council to ensure that their role as guardians of Co-operative values and principles is properly reflected in our Membership activities. Russell Gill will report to Rufus, who will also take sponsorship of the Meaningful Membership programme as Alyson Chadwick transitions this into our businesses.

Rufus will have responsibility on the Group Executive for the Communications, Public Affairs and Policy activities overseen by Jon Church and Paul Gerrard, and work closely with the Marketing teams.

He will report to Mike, with a dotted-line to Richard. We’re also recruiting a Digital Membership Services Director, who will work with Rufus, and together these two roles will cover all our Membership activity beyond the governance aspects dealt with through our Group and Council Secretariats.

Welcome Rufus.

Richard Pennycook
Group Chief Executive

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer