Testing Co-op Membership, an update

I recently joined the CoopDigital team as Head of Engineering for Membership. I’ve been working alongside the team for the last 10 months for PwC, so it’s been great to see the team develop and deliver the new Membership product and start testing Co-op Membership with our 68,000 colleagues.

Picture of Georgina Callaghan - Head of Engineering
George Callaghan

We’re learning lots, the team will share more over the next few weeks, but here’s some initial findings:

  • 69% of all colleague membership transactions were made with the new membership card
  • over half of our colleagues have used their new card
  • 50% of new membership online account access has been via mobile, 31% via desktop and 18% via tablet
  • over 2000 charities have completed an application form to be in receipt of the 1% for your community, and are now being reviewed

So what next?

Answering this question has been shaping my first few weeks within Co-op. The team has been working through the roadmap with the product owners, incorporating feedback from our colleagues, workshopping solutions for the market launch priority items, reorganising ourselves to enable agile delivery across the entire technology stack and also doing a bit of coding on the side.  

I’ve also been working with the digital engineering leadership team to plan our recruitment for the rest of the year. This means we’re hiring, if you are interested in joining this exciting team have a look at our vacancies.

Georgina (George) Callaghan.

Co-op Electrical moves to CoopDigital

Co-op Electrical sells, as you’d expect, electrical goods online. From fridges and washing machines to iPads and TVs. It’s a great business with a turnover of £100M and  a Feefo rating of 98%.  That rating stems from a real co-operative sense of customer service –  discounts for members and free delivery for everyone with slots by the hour.

Co-op Electrical competes in a tough market with the likes of AO.com, John Lewis and Currys. The team work hard to deliver not only great customer service but consistently offer lower prices than competitors along with warranties at a cost price.

Currently Electrical sits within Co-op Food, but as it’s an on-line business it makes sense to run it from CoopDigital. Today we’re announcing that James and his team will move over to Digital and work under Mike.

James and the team have an ambitious plan to grow the business. We’ll help to speed that up, making Electrical a truly digital business – not just an online one. We’ll invest in service design, agile delivery and focus relentlessly on the needs of our customers and members.

Steve and Mike

Steve Murrells – CEO Co-op Food – @Steve_Murrells
Mike Bracken  – Chief Digital Officer – @MTBracken

What percentage of people use contactless payments in our Food stores?

We believe contactless payments make shopping quicker and easier, but it’s hard to know just how popular or important they are, because not many retailers publish their usage stats.

We finished making it available in all our Food stores in 2014 and in 2015 Chris Whitfield, Paul Wilkins and team promoted it in store and with our colleagues. Chris recently looked at our stats and because we believe in being open here they are: nationally 32.12% of transactions are now contactless. That’s up from 7% in 2014.



It’s lower in our fuel stores at 20.21% as the contactless limit is £30.

Hopefully other people will share too and we’ll be able, together, to make shopping quicker and easier for everyone.

Digital Exclusion – and why there’s a “hive” of activity at the Co-op’s Academy

I’m Russell Gill,  Head of Membership & Co-operative Relations at the Co-op. I also Chair the Co-operative Academies Trust which runs eight primary and secondary schools in some of the most challenging areas of Manchester, Leeds and Stoke-on-Trent.

Last week I was delighted to attend the opening of The Hive – a joint venture between the Co-operative Academy of Manchester, based in Blackley, and YES– a social enterprise helping match the people of North Manchester with jobs, training and volunteering opportunities.

Digital exclusion is a growing problem in communities like Blackley. That’s why the Co-op Academy is so keen to develop the right skills and know-how for its students to thrive in a digital world. So there’s a real opportunity for the Co-op to share our fantastic digital expertise, alongside many other rich sources of learning represented by the Co-op way, to give our students a real head start.

But what about their families and the community more broadly? The Co-op Academy’s vision has always placed the needs of the whole community at its centre. Now, with the opening of The Hive, people in Blackley can learn new skills and look for opportunities to be work-ready. And that’s not all – The Hive also provides low-cost enterprise pods for new business start-ups, freelancers and small businesses, targeted at the burgeoning digital community. We hope that The Hive will provide a strong connection between the Co-op Academy’s students, members of the community who are keen to learn, and the area’s budding entrepreneurs.

A great example of co-operation in action.

To find out more about the Co-op’s Academies, visit us at www.co-operative.academy. And for more information about The Hive, go to www.hive.coop.


Russell Gill, Head of Membership & Co-operative Relations, @RussellMGill

Go big or go home

Hello. I’m Dave Johnson, Director of Digital Engineering at the Co-op and one of the people Mike mentioned here. I’m @davej_leeds on Twitter.

30 days ago Mike, Mat, Tom, Russell and Ben joined the Co-op to lead the creation of fantastic digital services with co-op values. Our team of colleagues across the Co-op have been busy…the first 30 days looked like this…

  • Launch Co-op Digital Blog on day 1…done
  • Launch Slack across Digital Strategy teams…done
  • Lots more Slack channels in the pipeline…
  • Purchase team boards and post-its
  • Purchase more team boards and post-its…done
  • Bring the internet inside the Co-op — ambitious for the first 30 days but progress…social media now accessible…more to do
  • Bring co-op values to the internet — already there, build on that…

blog quote

  • Tool up……jira…confluence…github…jenkins…ansible…teraform…done!
  • Developer builds for MacBooks…done. You can read about Lee Murray’s experience of joining the Co-op digital team here
  • Buy some computers…
    • AWS – done
    • Azure – researching
    • Heroku – done
  • Digital platform sprints * 2
  • Show & tells * 2

dave blog 22dave blog 2

  • Product roadmaps * 1
  • Platform and infrastructure backlogs * 2
  • Interviews with world class digital talent * 2
    • Job offers made 2, accepted 2
  • Team drinks after work * 2

Day 31 –

dave blog 3

Our job is to lead and build a world-class digital engineering team at the Co-op, and then build fantastic new digital services with Co-op values. We’re starting at the heart with Membership, and we’ll grow quickly. We’ll need the best digital talent to do that.

Here at the Co-op things are changing. We’ve learnt. We’ve grown. We’ve invested in the things that matter to our customers. We’ve invested in Digital and we are working to make the Co-op a world-leading digital player. Our ambition is bold: to re-create the Co-op for a digital era, and demonstrate a different way of doing business for an increasingly connected community. With this transformation comes a lot of opportunity. As a result we are looking to recruit  a number of talented players within the Digital space. Developers, Engineers, Architects, Business Analysts, User Researchers and Product Managers are just a few of the positions available within our growing and innovative team.

If you want to get involved by playing a key role within our digital transformation, please get in touch with  Polly Haslam today.

Digital Talent, Co-op Digital


I’m Mike Bracken, Chief Digital Officer for the Co-operative. This is a new blog, designed to start a conversation about our digital future.  Our aim in digital is to be open, agile and have a relentless focus on members – existing ones and new ones.

We are here to make the Co-operative a world-leading digital player as we continue our rebuild phase. Our ambition is bold: to re-create the Co-operative for a digital era, and demonstrate a different way of doing business for an increasingly connected community.

To achieve this, we will need to build on our position of trust with our members, create teamwork around a commitment to digital excellence, and continue to develop and attract the best digital skills.

The internet was made for co-operation and that starts with how we communicate with our millions of existing members. That starts with small steps like communicating online and saving over £500,000 in sending letters out twice a year.

In my brief time in Manchester I have been hugely impressed by the teams in place and the work already underway: Helen Carroll and her team on brand and marketing, Dave Johnson who is leading the technology delivery for the Meaningful Membership scheme along with architects like Danielle Haugedal-Wilson, and Paul Morris and the digital and social teams.

Colleagues starting the conversation about user needs

I am yet to properly meet several teams – such as Membership and Data and Insight – but will do so over the next few weeks and then look at our organisational set-up in November. I have spent much of my time with teams in the businesses – Funeral care in Rochdale, Food in Liverpool and St Helens – and I’ve been hugely impressed by their relentless focus on our members and customers. We have to match that focus in our digital operations, both at Group and in the businesses.

Wherever I have gone I have always looked to help support and develop existing teams – and add new skills to the mix. To that end let me introduce some people:

Russell Davies is joining us today as Digital Strategy Director, Tom Loosemore is our new Digital Services Director and Ben Terrett has joined as Group Design Director, and Mat Wall is working with the team to review our digital and data architecture.

Mat Wall is a leading technology architect, with experience in Government, The Guardian, Sony and elsewhere. He has been working with web technology since the 1990s and has delivered a number of large scale web sites. He started before me, and is working with Dave, Michael and the membership team, and also across the Technology Organisation.

Russell will lead in defining digital strategy for the whole Group – integrating our approach to communications, vision, loyalty, brand and membership. Russell’s spent the last twenty years working out what should happen when brands and services meet the internet, delivering industry-leading projects for people like Honda, Microsoft, Nike and the London Olympics. He’s also a Contributing Editor for Wired Magazine.

Tom will be responsible creating a world-class digital services unit at the centre of the Co-operative Group. He brings twenty years’ experience of digital product management, strategy and transformation at the BBC, Channel 4 and OFCOM. He was a founder of civic tech charity mySociety.

Ben will build a first-rate design and brand capability inside the Co-operative Group. He is a recognised leader within the design industry delivering outstanding and innovative work for Nike, The Guardian and Wieden+Kennedy. Ben is also a governor at the University of the Arts London and sits on the London Design Festival Advisory Board.

Together, Ben, Tom, Russell, Mat and I founded the Government Digital Service. With our colleagues there, and across government, we delivered GOV.UK, saved billions for the taxpayer, won the Design of the Year Award and – most importantly –  delivered substantially improved services for millions of people.

We’re used to working as a team so we hope it won’t take us long to get up and going.

This group brings extraordinary skills and experience to the Co-op, and I’m delighted that we’ve persuaded them to join us, but they won’t be the last brilliant digital people we’ll bring in. If you’re interested in creating fantastic digital services with co-operative values keep an eye on this blog. We’ll be looking for help.
Watch this space for more news. I’ll be blogging regularly about our digital progress. My personal blog is at www.mikebracken.com, and I’m @MTBracken on Twitter.