By Mathew Johnson, Regional Manager

Our customers’ needs, wants, and shopping habits are frequently changing, which is why we need to continue innovating and trialling new ways we sell food to our customers and drive new customers into our shops in a convenient, ethical, sustainable, and commercially successful way. 

Alongside other volunteers, I’ve been working with various teams across our Food business to make our Convenience Services more relevant and appealing for our customers and communities. And when lots of engaged colleagues put their heads together – that’s when the magic happens!

Convenience Services gives our customers better and easier ways to shop with us and provide them more reasons to visit our stores. They’re a big part of our strategy, and by being closer to where our customers are, what they need, and what they care about, we can deliver our vision of co-operating for a fairer world.

My piece in the innovation puzzle

It’s been an absolute pleasure to help influence the bigger picture. I’ve embraced new relationships, and it’s great to be part of an expertly led multifunctional team. Every colleague brings something unique to the table as we share our experiences and ideas into different pieces of the innovation puzzle.

I’ve been looking at how our stores can be even more relevant to our communities. We have a robust local food proposition. But we must continue seeking new partners to provide appropriate services for our communities.

Many of our stores have excess space, and I’ve been investigating how we use it by introducing a service or concession that gives our local communities a different reason to shop with us.

Watch Owen Guerin share his experience and benefits of parcel services in his store in Uppingham.

Sourcing win-win partnerships

Any partnership we embark on must provide tangible commercial benefits and help us extend our reach, enhance our value proposition and contribute to our vision. Partners must bring our local plans to life and feel privileged to stand alongside us and support our communities.

They’ll strengthen our presence in the local community and themselves be ambitious, especially when it comes to growing their business and striving to work with us to find mutual benefits. 

To be honest, it’s a win-win relationship for Co-op, our partners and our communities; they’ll introduce more footfall into our shops; it’s an additional incentive for customers to shop with us, allowing our partners to thrive in new communities.

What exciting things are we exploring?

Here’s an overview of some exciting options we’re trialling in our stores.

  • One hour delivery: Customers can place an order through our Online Grocery platform and deliver it within an hour! We’re trialling this in five stores
  • Chilled Lockers: Customers can collect their Online Grocery orders from a temperature-controlled locker, making it efficient for them to collect their orders without having to queue at the kiosk. We’re trialing this in two stores
  • Pick Walk: Across Deliveroo and Online Grocery, we’re looking at introducing a pick walk, so products will appear on devices in the same order as they are in the store layout
  • Front of House Lockers: We’ll be trialling these across 50 stores from October as a storage solution for stores where Back of House space is limited. The trial will feature Amazon, DPD, and John Lewis stores. This option will allow us to continue extending the service to more stores and help colleagues retrieve parcels quickly for customers and save them time
  • Amazon Returns: We’ll extend the collection service to include customer returns in 30 of our existing Amazon stores. It’ll be a simple process, with just a menu updated onto the existing app

Leading positive change

Our Store Managers and Area Managers play a significant role in championing change and making our colleagues feel involved when sourcing and trialling new innovations and opportunities. It all comes back to our ‘future focussed’ behaviour. 

We land change positively and trust those who bring our new services and opportunities into our store. Our colleagues are crucial in making our partnerships a success. We need to give them the confidence and tools to talk to customers about these new opportunities in their shops.

It’s never been a more challenging time for frontline colleagues – a lot is going on, and we need to be conscious of how we approach ‘change’ for our colleagues and bring them on the journey with us. But thankfully, it’s all made much easier when everything we do aligns with our vision and purpose. We’re much better when it comes to ‘change readiness’ nowadays, and I’ve learnt to plan for it upfront so that we’re brave and confident with our ambitions and we land changes brilliantly.