We’re testing digital offers for members

Back in March, we posted about running a discovery to find out what would be possible with digital offers for Co-op members. That was 6 months ago and a lot’s happened since then – here’s an update on the work Digital have been doing with the Personalisation team in Co-op Food.

Quick research recap

Our work on digital offers is an extension of the work we did last year when we tested out an app for members. One of the reasons that this turned out to be a no-go was that lots of our stores don’t have tills that could scan the app.

However, we did find that people like the idea of having something on their phone rather than carrying a membership card around with them. Research said this was true of offers too. At the moment, members receive their personalised offers on paper from the till, just before their receipt is printed. To take advantage of money off they have to take, keep, bring back, and then remember to use the paper coupon next time they shop with us.

Quite an arduous process.

What we’ve done so far

With that research in mind, the Food teams have been hard at work changing the offers platform to make sure we can offer digital offers, and we, the Digital team, have built a website and an app that will present the offers to users each week.

Here’s how the website is looking:

Digital offers member website

Here’s how the app is looking:

How the app looks. Scrolls through offers.

Now it’s time to test

Next month we’re going to test the service on a website and on an app with real users. We’ve recruited 12,000 members to be involved though our ‘Member Voice’ programme. These are engaged members that shop with us regularly, and who understand that things might not always work the way they expect them to.

The most important outcome right now

The main objective of this phase is to make sure everything works as it should, technically. Our aim is for:

  • members to be able to choose offers through the website and the app
  • members to be able to redeem the offers in store
  • all the data to flow to the right places, for example, offers show up in till transactions which can be fed back into Finance which funds the offers

We’ve worked with the teams in Food and Retail IT to build the service in a way that doesn’t rely on changes to our tills. Once a member has chosen an offer, it’ll be loaded onto their membership card, and redeemed automatically when the card is swiped and the matching product is in the basket.

For this phase of work, we’ve focussed on making changes to the system that produces paper coupons to support a digital offers service. Regardless of how the service will eventually look, these things need to talk to each other before it will work for customers. Once we get this part right, we can build on and improve things such as the more commercial aspects – for example, how many offers would we give, how frequently they’d change and whether there’s a type of offer that works best.

Learning as we go

Testing with real customers in real stores is so important for us, as it will inform what we build next. People tend to get overly excited about money off their shopping in research sessions, but observing what people actually is the most valuable.

We’ll analyse the data we get back to measure how members are using the service, and gather feedback to learn what works for them and what doesn’t .

Around 20% of the 12,000 test members have agreed to participate in further research, so we’ll gather more feedback after the trial through surveys, phone interviews and face-to-face sessions.

Fixing things before moving forward

Before we go bigger with this, we need to fix some things. The priorities in our backlog are:

  1. Make digital offers available to all members – existing ones and brand new ones too.
  2. Make it easier to find and upload images for offers – at the moment, new photographs sometimes need to be taken.
  3. Look at the data trends to work out how we can keep offers varied and interesting as well as personalised.

Of course, we’ll also use the feedback gathered in the trial to prototype and test different ways we could present offers to members. We want to build a service that’s simple and intuitive to the point it doesn’t need explaining at all, but has the depth and value to keep people coming back to use it week on week.

We have lots of ideas here, but until we’ve tested them with real customers we have no idea what will work.

One Co-op

This alpha is a great example of different Co-op teams bringing their expertise together and working collaboratively.

The Personalisation team in Food are experts in creating the right offers for the right members, so they’re leading the thinking on new offers for new channels. The Retail IT team have made the changes we needed to our offers platform in a way that ensures the customer’s experience at till is protected. And the Digital team have built a new service that’s fit for the future, with a front end that the user will interact with.

We’ll post on what we learn from testing at the end of the year. Watch this space.

Joel Godfrey
Product manager