Product Range Finder

Hello, I’m Claire Carroll. My teams speak to thousands of our members and customers every day in our member and customer contact centre.

A picture of Claire Carroll
Claire Carroll

One of the most common calls to our stores and our customer care team is whether or not a particular product is stocked in a store. Our stores stock slightly different products because:

  • they are different sizes
  • customers in different locations have different needs

When we get calls about what products are in a particular store, it takes the team a little time to find the answer. Advisers needed to look in a few different places for the information. The system we used was clunky, taking around 10 minutes to locate a store. Knowing it would take too long, advisers would often tell customers that they would need to call customers back. This was a poor experience for our members, customers and colleagues.

A few months ago, with their service design partner UsTwo, the digital team began a discovery with our Food business to choose 3 alpha projects.

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Product Range Finder Show & Tell


One of the chosen alphas was Product Range Finder. The alpha project was to build a simple prototype, allowing my team to have a single tool to use when answering queries on product range, and to see if this tool improved our efficiency and experience.

The new prototype is much easier to use than the old system and provides more information. For example, it tells customers how many stores stock a particular product, and how many of those stores are in a 15 mile radius from them.

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Product Range Finder – showing list view of the products, and how many stores stock the listed product
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Product Range Finder – map view of stores that stock the product selected

We receive 200 queries a month about finding product ranges. The prototype saves us approximately 10 minutes on each one. This equates to an extra 7 hours a week.

We’ve found this prototype so invaluable that we requested changes are done out of hours. We didn’t want any down time during the day.

My team’s enjoyed working as part of the product team to test the prototype and suggest improvements. The advisors have loved being the experts and have been amazed how quickly their feedback has led to improvements to the system.

Next for the product team is the beta phase. They’ll make a technically sound, scalable version of the prototype. They’ll make sure the the data feeds are right, look at adding availability information, and take some steps towards making the tool customer facing.

Claire Carroll
Head of Member & Customer Services

Provenance alpha

Hello, I’m Cathryn Higgs. As head of food policy I’m constantly looking to find ways we can live and breathe co-op values to help our customers and members.

Picture of Cathryn Higgs

The Co-op has always been a leader when it comes to championing the customer’s right to food that is formulated, manufactured and marketed in a way they can trust. The Rochdale Pioneers set up their own shops to protect workers and provide ordinary people with good food at fair prices at a time when food was regularly not what it said it was – bread flour bulked out with chalk, milk diluted with water and tea that really wasn’t made with tea leaves.

We’ve always campaigned for clearer food labelling and easy to understand nutrition labelling which led to us  introducing a front of pack scheme a decade ahead of the government’s traffic light system. We’re also proud to have been the first to label eggs intensively produced, a technically illegal step but which directly led to the law being changed allowing eggs to be labelled ‘from caged hens’.  

More well-known is our commitment to Fairtrade. We believe that everyone deserves to be treated fairly and take seriously our commitment to improving the lives of people in the communities we trade with. Which is why are still the only retailer to have converted all of our own brand tea, coffee, block chocolate, sugar, bananas and roses to Fairtrade and are proud to be the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade wine.

Openness, honesty and social responsibility are part of our Co-op ethical values and we have a long history of taking action to support customers right to know about how the products they buy are made and sourced so that they can make an informed purchasing decision and the best choice for them personally.

Right to know – for the digital age?

We’ve started exploring ways we can deliver on this policy using digital and one of the ways we are doing this is by looking at partners who are already leading the way.

We’re working with Provenance.org, a social enterprise using blockchain technology to enable  transparency of data and verification of claims in supply chains, in order to  tell verifiable stories about where our food comes from and how it gets from source to our shops.

Picture of the Provenance alpha team

To do this, we are running an alpha to see what’s possible. Then we will consider the value this could offer our customers and members as part of our commitment to help them make decisions that fit their budget values and ethics.

We’ll update you on our progress as we go. 

Cathryn Higgs
Head of Food Policy

Service Design workshops in Co-op Food

Last week we began a series of Service Design workshops with our Food business.
We’re working on a two week discovery phase by the end of which we’ll pick three projects to take in Alpha.

The project is being led by myself and Jo Whitfield the Finance Director in Food. We’re working with UsTwo as our service design partner. Importantly, as the unit of delivery is the team, our team is made up of CoopDigital, Food and UsTwo.

The team have visited stores, spoken to our colleagues, spent some time in a depot and with our call centre. We’ve been out talking to customers and members.

Picture of food service design discovery work
Food Service Design discovery

There’s lots to cover so we’ve been sketching user journeys with colleagues from every part of the business. We’re looking for clear user needs that will make things easier for members, customers or colleagues.

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Outputs from a sketching workshop

As we believe in working in the open, we’ll blog about our progress on this blog.

Ben Terrett
Group Design Director

The way we pay

This week our colleagues in food published a report on how people like to pay in their stores. Contactless payments (the ones you make by tapping your debit card or mobile phone on a card reader) in our stores have trebled annually to 11 million transactions a month. 

March-2016

The Findings

  • Customers on average shop with us 19 times over 3 months
  • 65% of our transactions over the last year have been with cash
  • 11 million contactless transactions in March 2016
  • Average basket size using chip & pin £18.16
  • Average basket size using contactless is £8.66
  • 65% of shoppers think that in under a decade all they will need is their phone to pay for daily goods

“The new technology is perfect for convenience stores as shoppers buy fewer items and speed is important to them.”

Cheryl Marshall Co-op Retail CIO  

Over the last year 65% of Co-op food transactions used cash, but it’s expected that contactless payments on cards and mobile phones will overtake it within the decade. 

Our research found that average spend for contactless is £8.66, versus £18.16 using chip-and-PIN. What explains the gap? Perhaps security concerns with new payment mechanisms, or the increased familiarity of Chip-and-PIN over contactless methods. Or simply that many customers aren’t aware that the contactless payment limit was raised to £30 in September 2015. Research by payment systems manufacturer Verifone says that paying by contactless card is faster than chip and pin or cash, a strong pointer that contactless card and mobile payments will eventually be commonplace, making convenience shopping even faster and easier.

You can read our convenience reports in full here:

 

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