Mike Bracken: 4.5 million active members, Federation and thanks to Jamie

(Transcript) Mike Bracken: Hello, welcome to the Co-op Digital weekly update.

We’ll start as ever with a big number, 4.5 million active members now at the Co-op, so those numbers keep growing and that’s a huge change since September 21st last year, so well done to the team for that. And that work’s being recognised.  This week the team in Membership have been shortlisted for a Retail Week Technology Award for that program, so well done to them.

Other highlights of the week, we’ve opened our co-working space in Federation building, the Federation right over the road from Angel Square you can now go see that check out the details on the blog.

I’d like to welcome a few people Nassali Douglas has joined as a Member Pioneer Manager, Richard Shenton coming as a Finance Manager, they’ve come from other parts of the Co-op, Louise Nicholas has joined us as a designer welcome to the Co-op and I’d like to say goodbye to Jamie Arnold who’s been brilliant leading our agile work as a delivery manager, he’ll be much missed.

Thank you very much to him and see you next week.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

Mike Bracken: data, dividends and ‘Join Us’

Mike: This week, stand out stuff is data and dividends and join us. Let’s start with data, had the data leaders back this week for the second, people from all over from the co-op working on our data principles. We’re getting to grips with this, remember I said last year at the AGM, we would become synonymous with radical transparency. We’re really getting ready to get those data principles out, not just in the Co-op but with our partners and supply chain, that’s better for our members, so keep watching the blog for that.

This week some more numbers around Membership. We have made a real breakthrough with member data. We’ve gone past 4 million active members, that’s a huge rise. That more than 412,000 new members since September 21st (2016). That keeps going upwards, we keep improving the service, Derek, Nathan, all the team working on membership are continually iterating and making it better for members.

Big feature this week for some older people like me, is the dividend numbers. Many people remember the dividend and the dividend points, you can now see those on your own personal page on the membership site. You can go to coop.co.uk/membershipdata and see all those dividend points and all the other things that make up great membership.

So, the final number on membership is we’ve now passed the 20 million mark in returns we’ve passed back to our members, both in the 5% back to individuals and the 1% to causes, so it’s looking great and we keep passing barriers all the time.

The final thing to say this week is we launched our campaign and you’re gonna see more of this nationally and locally about how to join the Co-op. We’ve have a great film by Shane Meadows, we showed that as we always do to colleagues first in Manchester on Wednesday, the first place you can see it is shown before Trainspotting in cinemas in the very near future so do watch it. The film is all about the Co-op, all about our values and it encourages people to join us, so if anyone’s watching this video, join us.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

Mike Bracken: a busy first week back

Mike: Hello, happy new year, I’m Mike Bracken and I want to wish every member of the Co-op, particularly the digital team, happy new year. Hope you had a restful holiday and for those of you who have worked through, unlike myself, visited store and lent a hand, thank you for doing that, and have had a great Christmas.

It’s a brief update this week. But I want to just mention a couple of really important things.

Firstly, we moved into The Federation, a building where we’re building out our digital centre working with partners, SMEs and other organisations in the digital economy and already this year we’ve increased our footprint.

We received new leases for the other 4 floors of that building yesterday and I’m glad to say that that means we’ll be expanding our footprint right through the building and into the centre of Manchester further in 2017.

We also had a great opportunity to show our executive around, and show them all the products and services that we’ve been working on for the last year, and they were thrilled with that, and I can already say that we’re gonna have a lot more demand coming our way. So already a great start to the year.

Probably the biggest thing that happened last week as we moved into the new year, was that we passed the 4 million membership mark. Now, membership is central to everything that we’re about, and it was only on September 21st last year, that we reissued our membership scheme. We’ve added just under 400,000 new members since then and as I say, we now got over 4 million active members of the Co-op. So it shows that people are coming back to the Co-op and joining in substantial numbers.

So that’s great news, and do keep your eyes on those numbers which are published live and they’re updated at the end of every week.

This week ahead, well, we’ll welcome Richard, our CEO, to our all digital meeting on Wednesday afternoon in 1 Angel Square and then we’ll spend more time with our businesses through the end of the week.

I’ll give you an update on that next week, but again, just to say happy new year.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

Here’s to 2016 – a very good start

In the past few weeks, I’ve heard product teams present their work to representatives from the Members’ Council, to our Group Board and to the rest of the Co-op Digital team. It was a great reminder of how much we’ve achieved in the past year thanks to the support, challenge and expertise of our colleagues from across the Co-op Group.

In April, I presented the Co-op Digital team’s plans to the Group Board. We said we’d focus on 4 things: Membership, Products, Platforms and Ventures. We’re on target and within budget.

Here’s a recap of some of the progress we’ve made this year.

Our new ‘old’ brand

In May we revealed our new branding. We reverted to a brand identity rooted in the Co-op’s history. We were ‘back to being Co-op’. So far we’ve rolled the redesign out across 558  locations, 153 Co-op Funeralcare homes and 2,000 own brand products. In August our rebranded carrier bags even made it onto The Guardian’s weekly fashion trends. Being fashionable isn’t our goal, but it’s nice to be noticed!

Picture of Co-op Food Store in Shoreditch

We relaunched Membership

We rolled out the new Membership to 3,000 colleagues in our support centre in June; 70,000 colleagues in July; and over 3 million active members in September. We sold 120,000 new Membership cards within 72 hours when we launched Membership in September – without advertising. Since then, 339,000 members have joined. The Co-op now has almost 4 million active members. We’re being transparent and publishing Membership data every week.

Co-op Membership is good for both members and their communities. Each time members buy Co-op branded products or use certain Co-op services they get 5% back on what they spend. Members can also choose a local cause through our online service and 1% of what they spend will go towards supporting it.

We’re listening to what our members want. Over the past few months, more than 12,000 members have signed up online to join in and give feedback on our products, our stores and their shopping habits. We’ve hosted 29 ‘join in’ opportunities and we’ve been engaging with members online and in their communities. Members have given us over 770 hours of their time. And listening to them makes a difference: sales of wine recommended by members are up by 25%.

Picture of our new Co-op Membership card.

The new domains are live

We’ve improved our websites. Colleagues no longer have to be at work to access information about working here. Instead they can do it by visiting coop.co.uk/colleagues from home. Last week we blogged about how we’ve made co-operative.coop better – a really significant step to being able to respond to and meet members’ needs quickly.

Thank you to Nick Crofts, President of our National Members’ Council, for helping us understand the members’ perspectives about what the sites needed to be.

We’ve developed digital products

Some of the products the Co-op Digital team has worked on this year include:

These products help our colleagues work more efficiently and make it easier for customers to do things like make a will.

Colleagues like Claire Carroll and Cathryn Higgs from Co-op Food, James Antoniou at Co-op Legal Services (CLS), and Robert MacLachlan who runs Co-op Funeralcare have challenged and championed the digital teams who have worked on product alphas and betas. Thank you for your help.

The Co-op Digital Wills team worked closely with James Antoniou’s CLS team. Together, they launched the Wills beta in August and it already makes up around 25% of CLS’s Wills business. The Co-op Digital team is now in the process of handing over the daily running of the beta to CLS.

The Funeralcare at-need service is giving our Funeralcare colleagues more time to spend with clients. They’re building products that make it easier for Funeralcare colleagues to do their paperwork and give them more oversight of the different aspects of arranging a funeral. Our colleagues in Bolton are already using the service and we’re rolling it out to more funeral homes in Edinburgh in 2017. Redesigning an entire service around people’s needs could not have been done without the support of our colleagues across the Funeralcare business.

We’ve worked with design agency UsTwo to build Product Finder and the Store Dashboard for the Food business. Product Finder is now helping our call centre colleagues give customers product information quickly, over the phone. It’s been saving each colleague around 7 hours per week. During the alpha, small groups of colleagues had access to the Store Dashboard too. It gives them up-to-date information about delivery times as well as other information they need to do their jobs. It’s giving store managers up to 10% more time to spend on the shop floor. Both products show what digital can do for the Co-op colleagues and customers.

Screen shot of the Product Range Finder. A map view of stores that stock a chosen product

We’ve also been working with tech start up provenance.org, to see if it’s feasible for the us to collect accurate, verifiable data about food supply chains and track food products at scale. The Co-op has always been committed to transparency about food, from the time of the Rochdale pioneers through to championing Fairtrade. In the digital age, trust will come from transparency.

The products work isn’t over. We’ll keep building products and services that make things easier and more efficient for our colleagues, members and customers in 2017.

Platforms and Ventures

Platforms and Ventures are the next stage of the digital approach I presented to the Board earlier this year. Federation House, home to many of our product teams, is the foundation of this work. Emer Coleman and Claire Braithwaite are making The Federation an innovative and ethical place where digital people can draw on each other’s skills to build sustainable businesses. We’re talking to several start ups about joining us, and will have more to share in 2017.

A product team updates Co-op Digital colleagues on its last 2 weeks in the auditorium at Federation House

Multidisciplinary teams, co-operating

And we’re building a great team. People who have been at the Co-op for a while, working with people who are new to the Co-op, and with co-operators and people outside of the Co-op who share our values. We have so many talented people working with us to do the right thing.

Thank yous

Thank you to Nick Croft, the President of the Council who’s helped us work with the Council and their working group. Thanks also to the Group Board which has given us the time and space to deliver during a very busy phase. Thank you to our business unit leaders who have collaborated and co-created the products we’ve delivered to achieve the best outcome for our members. Finally, thank you to the Co-op Digital teams for all your hard work.

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2017. Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

We’re looking for people to join the team.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

Highlights from the past year

It’s been just over a year since Chief Digital Officer Mike Bracken and his team joined us at the Co-op. When he invited me over to Federation House, the new home of our digital teams, I asked him which parts of the last year stand out to him the most.

Mike: Hi Nick.

Nick: Hi Mike. Thank you very much for inviting me here to Federation House… wonderful place. You’ve been with The Co-op for about a year now.

M: Yes.

N: And I wanted to ask you what you highlights have been during the time that you’ve been with us?

M: The first is obviously Membership. I’m old enough to remember the dividend and all the rest of it and to… to be part of a team that has reset Membership and reset… is resetting this organisation to be a radical member-based organisation.  

Probably to recapture what it was but also to make us much more relevant in the digital age. To be part of that programme, to help people through that fantastic… absolutely terrific and it’s only been less than two months since we started to re-card and get people ready and it’s… we’re at the start of that journey but that’s… that’s without doubt the best thing.

Next best thing – you’re sitting in it. It’s… this is Federation House and this is, I am reliably informed, one of the oldest buildings where the Co-op was way back in the day. And we’ve stripped everything out, we’ve made it into a modern, digital, creative centre where we’re going to see not just the Co-op but other people in Manchester. Other parts of the digital-eco system work with us to really grow our… our community work and our membership play and actually play a part in the wider digital economy.

So those 2 things bookend my… my time here and if I then pick one other thing it’s the people. And everyone always says that don’t they?

And the people here in Manchester but more importantly all around the country. In our stores, in our funeral homes, in our logistics centres. I’ve been to some by no means enough and particularly our sort of people in community who do work. They’re relentlessly cheerful, optimistic, positive, got fantastic values and it’s been really quite humbling, so those 3 things I’d pick.

Nick Crofts
President of the Members’ Council

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