HHTs – The best Christmas present ever!

I’m Kevin – I’m SM of the Innerleithen Store in Scotland. I’ve worked for the Co-op for the last 10 years, starting in store when I was just 17.

Kevin at Innerleithen
Kevin at Innerleithen

Looking back, I remember being so excited for our new HHTs to arrive. I’d been reading the posts on Social Media, seeing Chris Whitfield post pictures of what they would look and feel like. My colleagues and I were buzzing with excitement, imagining all of the amazing features that we hoped they would have.

When they landed, they did not disappoint. It felt like Christmas; the engineer’s arrival was more exciting than hearing Santa’s sleigh land on my roof when I was a young child. A cool £7million investment into our future, making our lives quicker and much simpler.

On the day they arrived there was a queue of colleagues waiting to use our new HHTs – the only queue I’ve ever been happy to see. Nadine, Hilda and Sharon were all desperate to go out and complete our reductions and price checks; wanting to experience the new functions, the speed and the layout. Sharon couldn’t believe how much faster they were. I was so excited to give them a try – I sat like a kid at Christmas waiting for my parents to tell me I could open my first present.

At 3:01pm on the dot, an excited Hilda came bounding up to me to show me the new reduction process. They were so excited by how much sleeker the menus were to navigate; how much easier it was to select a printer; how much faster they were and the most instant and noticeable… No more wheel of death when trying to log in.

I felt and saw a wave of relief sweep through the store team. At this point I was still desperate to get my hands on one. I had never been so desperate to do a gap scan…

I flew round the shop catching gaps, (And even deleting gaps that I had scanned in error). I was completely taken aback at the simplicity of it all. Everything a Store Manager had ever wanted for their teams was here. I printed, actioned and filled my gaps on a high. That was me hooked. What else could I do? There was only one option… Price checking. I was praying for a huge section like wines. But I got something even better… Health and beauty. I felt like all my Christmases had come at once, (Quite literally as we got top shelves the day before and headsets were due in the day after). 250 products later, I found myself bounding round my management team telling them how much better the new HHTs were. The speed was unreal. Less than 5 minutes to check all those products. I think it was the first time I’d ever heard a team leader say they were jealous about doing tasks.

Two months later I still get the same buzz. All the frustration of crashing guns, constant reboots and wheel of death are now gone; things that seems so minor but mean so much to my store team. We know there are still some changes which need to be made to improve efficiency even more, but all in all we’re thrilled with the new HHTs. The time we’re now saving on completing these tasks means we can do more of what we at the Co-op do best – serving our customers and our members better and creating room for us to engage with our communities.

I’m sure all of my fellow colleagues out there in our stores will join me in saying a massive thank you to everyone involved in making this project happen. Something like this is truly what Being Co-op is all about.

Compostable bags

Since David Attenborough’s warning about the dangers of plastic in the BBC’s Blue Planet II series last year there has been a major behavioural change in our shopping. Research suggests that 88% of people who watched the final episode have changed their behaviour when it comes to single use plastic consumption.

In order to cater to the shift in customer demand and lead the way in sustainable retail we have introduced the compostable carrier bag. This sets us apart from other retailers who have replaced single use carrier bags with bags for life as for us this would triple our plastic waste.

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Our 5p compostable bags can be reused in food waste bins and can carry up to 3 bottles of prosecco!

Our 5p compostable bags can be reused in food waste bins and can carry up to 3 bottles of prosecco! They have now gone live in 1069 stores (39% of our estate) aligning with councils who offer kerbside food waste collections. Switching to compostable carrier bags in these stores alone will potentially reduce plastic waste by up to 864 tonnes a year which really ties in with our ethics, bringing the Co-op difference to life.

Feedback about the bags from customers and colleagues has been fantastic so far and our aim is to be able to provide the bag across the whole estate. We will approach this by engaging with councils allowing them to see the great benefits of the bag and then negotiating with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to allow sales in 100% of stores.

Watch this video by Costs Manager Helen Holland for more information. (Password is Centraldivision)

The present is now here, next stop – the future

Hi, I’m Andy and I’m the Solution Lead on the tablet project. I was part of the team that designed and implemented those shiny new tablets (that are hopefully all fully working and being used by everyone in your stores). It was my job to make the things people wanted possible and politely tell them when it wasn’t. I am sure you have had the sales pitch and the use cases, the testimonials and the straplines, but I just wanted to give you all a bit of my own view from Retail IT on what we were thinking about as we worked with the Leading the Way team to drag our IT kit into the modern era.

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The new store tablet being used in the warehouse

Full disclosure: when I first started working on this project a year ago, I didn’t see the point, being a natural cynic and ironically fairly stuck in my ways when it comes to change, my instinct was that we were simply putting in technology for technology’s sake. Our first prototype didn’t bring much to the table, despite being designed to take you away from it! What changed my mind was getting to see what we had in the pipeline. When I got to work with the first set of Store Managers, heard the things they wanted, and realised that over the next few years with IT and RSC working together we could deliver everything they want, I was finally sold. Trust me when I say that twelve months goes a lot quicker when you believe in what you are working on, and I am extremely proud to have been involved in bringing you your store tablet. Our project team have built the platform we need to deliver the future to you in the palm of your hands (or over the shoulder with the strap – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it for a day).

Modern ways of working need modern tools, and we have some pretty cool tools coming your way in the next few years. I think it’s fair to say even the most tech-averse amongst us (you know who you are) are ducks in water with a tablet or phone. My four year old daughter can use it (don’t tell anyone she has one, though) but no matter how much I try to teach her to log into Incontrol – she just doesn’t get it (might be best we don’t tell anyone she has a back office server, either).

Tablets on Twitter
One of our Stores of Excellence gets to grips with the new tablet

To the cynics out there – like I was – you may see this device and think about the things that it does not do, but this is just the start – think about the things it can and will do with your help. I am a big fan of crowdsourcing, which is why one of the first things I put on the dashboard was the “your ideas” link. Let people know what you think – you can keep the positivity for twitter if you want – just help us to make it an even better product for you all to use.

Simplifying governance in Food

Who are we

The Governance & Assurance team are part of the Transformation function in the Retail Support Centre. We look after the governance landscape across Food for the change portfolio – programmes (big, multiple initiatives) and projects (single initiatives) that are in progress and the new ones that come out the Strategic Planning Cycle

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Image credit: flickr.com/duaneschoon

We’ve been listening

From your feedback, we’ve heard that there are plenty of opportunities in how we run governance across Food. At its heart, governance is about making the right decisions for the business in an efficient and effective way. Unfortunately, and partly due to our business’ complexity, we’ve found that:

  1. It’s not always clear how to get stuff done – the landscape can be daunting and often doesn’t have a clear route to decision/roll out.
  2. Governance groups can have conflicting interests and priorities – leading to colleagues becoming stuck in a governance ‘carousel’.
  3. Even when we agree that we want to do something, it can take a long time to get through the mechanics of governance – which risks expected benefits and can test the resilience of project teams!

All of these issues have come about from people trying to do the right thing for our colleagues, members and customers, but it does slow us down. We’ve looked at some examples like ‘Top Shelves’ within the Leading the Way programme. A simple project to fit some extra shelving in our stores, which helps colleagues with product availability for our members & customers. Despite it being something our competitors do and the business has endorsed, we had a series of governance and decision delays which meant rather than finishing the project to plan at the end of July, we’re a couple of months behind with nearly 600 stores completed so far.

What we’re going to do

Our role is to make governance effective. If designed and used well, governance is invaluable and can help speed up the change we want to do, and ensure it lands well.

Whilst all of our current processes are important and protect the Co-op, there’s too many or too much duplication, which adds time, effort and money to the delivery of our change plans. We’ll therefore be doing a sprint over the next 5 weeks to simplify and strengthen the governance process, as well as laying the foundations for best practice.

What our new landscape will look like

Keyword – simple! With defined roadmaps or even motorways, traffic lights, signs – a set destination, we’ll know when we’ll get there and there’s a clear view of progress along the way. We’ll do this by…

  • Mapping out the current decision-making landscape so we can identify common pinch points and opportunities for simplification.
  • Making sure the right people are in the room and we’re making the most effective use of our time – so we do what’s best for our Co-op and we spend members’ money like it’s our own.
  • Developing a compelling narrative, with insight from colleagues, members and customers, suppliers and partners. Helping stakeholders better understand a particular initiative, so they can make informed decisions at the right time.
  • Moving towards one simple set of templates to avoid the effort that goes into the multitude of decks and packs we create.
  • Updating on progress, with clear visibility of the risks involved, so stakeholders can apply rigour and keep us safe & legal.

 

How can I get involved?

The Exec have put forward functional partners to work with and we’re engaging across the business to gather inputs. We’ll be sharing plans and ‘how tos’ as part of an easy to use Governance portal after we’ve shared our ideas with the Exec.

In the meantime, we’re really keen to engage with those colleagues who have experience or an interest in this area, and we’d love to hear from you at retailgovernance@coop.co.uk

Store Manager Amelia shares her experience working with ‘One Best Way’

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I’m Amelia – I’ve worked for the co-op as a store manager for 10 months in the Bristol area, and I recently completed a secondment with the One Best Way programme.

The main goal was to get out to visit stores to understand the complexity in our back and middle office processes, and how we can make them leaner.

During my secondment I visited 15 stores, and I loved engaging with store managers. It was great gaining insight on how we could better support our stores with simplified processes to better serve our customers. The reaction from colleagues to the work we were completing was fantastic! I couldn’t have asked for more openness and honesty to aid myself and the team in gathering the data.

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Discussing back office processes in store

I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of the secondment, engaging with key stakeholders, working with store colleagues and experts in the business and challenging the norm by being constantly curious. At times I surprised myself- I even participated in a One Best Way Podcast – I wouldn’t have put myself forward to take part in a podcast before! I also particularly enjoyed looking into the stream surrounding fuel, as this is in area I have never worked with before.

Although I found it intense at times – seeing the outputs made it all the more worthwhile. We’ve now mapped the theoretical and actual processes and identified some key opportunities and recommendations for the business to focus on.

One of the most important things the secondment taught me was the need for change and how I could play a part in co-creating it. I worked with a fantastic team of people across the country and have further built my own personal network. I was made to feel so welcome by all at the Retail Support Centre at 1AS and can honestly say it felt like home for the 4 weeks I was there.

I would definitely recommend secondment opportunities as a great experience to anyone. I now feel like I’ve walked back into my store re-energised with my eyes wide open, and have already been looking at the way we complete tasks in a different light.

Amelia-Jane Statham

Store Manager, Henleaze

Andy Young & Ben Flannery are setting the right plan to achieve the Co-op Food strategy

We’re the Strategic Planning team, which is part of Governance & Assurance in the Transformation & Retail Support Centre. We’ve just kicked off the annual Strategic Planning Cycle (SPC) and we’re gearing up for a busy few months. The SPC process is used by Co-op Food to do two things:

  • Firstly, to confirm we’re heading in the right direction to achieve our five year ambition of Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities. Which is defined brilliantly by a term Ben found: coddiwomple “to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination”. I’m not saying our ambition is vague, but we’re flexible to the market and we can pivot and remain agile to all the headwinds we may encounter on the journey.
  • Then we’ll review our current plans and retail risks, alongside future trends and potential impacts – helping us to establish the activity that will enable us to deliver our ambition.

Working across the Co-op

At the moment we’re working with key functions: Finance, IT and Customer – holding workshops and sessions across the Co-op to gather of all the great ideas, insight and establish the latest vision of the future. Supporting and helping functions to ensure we’re focusing in the right areas to build a Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities together.

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Planning the coddiwomple

 

Building the plan

In the coming weeks we’ll pull all of this information together, alongside our current portfolio of programmes and projects (Andy’s favourite part). Building the plan for our Co-op to deliver for colleagues, members, customers and their communities.

Tweaking the process

Over the last few SPCs we’ve listened and recognised the food retail environment and customer expectations are changing faster now, than they ever have before. So, going forward we’re making sure our plan is flexible and we can assess change regularly (Andy’s new favourite part). As a result we’re making the SPC an ‘always on’ process, with two key builds:

  • Monthly reviews of new ideas and proposed initiatives, to ensure we tackle any new headwinds or disruption to our 5 year ambition.
  • Quarterly reviews of the portfolio, to make sure we’re focusing on delivering the right initiatives and managing our resources effectively.

We’ll let you know how our coddiwomple is working out

Keep an eye out for updates on our progress over the summer. We’ll share how we’re building the plan and the critical paths that will deliver some great benefits for our Co-op, colleagues, members and customers. Your engagement and support is much appreciated, and once the plan is finished we all get behind it and deliver our part.

Andy & Ben

The Food Transformation team have joined with the Retail Support Centre

It’s been a busy few weeks of change for all in the Food Transformation team, which is something that they’re used to… because they’re the people that look after the Co-op’s large portfolio of change activity for Food and Retail.

Their job is to ensure everyone is aligned, ready to receive the changes, and ultimately to make stores a great place to work for colleagues, easy for members and customers to shop in and build a Co-op for the next generation of members.

These are exciting times for the new joined up team. We’ve all worked together before and, along with colleagues from across the Co-op, we’ve helped to develop some great digital products: ‘How do I’ and ‘Shifts’. With the Transformation team alongside the Retail Support Centre team, we can be confident of developing further initiatives, bringing our expertise together to help achieve our ambition of a Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities for the future.

There are three main focus areas for the Transformation office:

First, the Governance team works across the Co-op to identify potential new programmes and projects, then helps the Transformation team decide which to do. After that they keep everybody honest, so the Food Portfolio delivers what they’ve said they’ll deliver and on schedule – ensuring they use our time wisely and spend the Co-op’s money like it’s their own!

Next, the Portfolio Management Office makes sure all of the planned changes are meaningful and delivered well. They also provide a centre of excellence for all things programme and project management related e.g. methodologies, tools, resources, and the people who can support the process when needed – enabling and guiding the Portfolio.

Finally, the Food Portfolio team ensures we all deliver the programmes and projects that the wider teams agreed to and ensures it’s done well! They do this by sharing plans and goals across the Co-op, helping to build a platform to support activity for colleagues, members and customers.

Smartphone product scanner and part of the pay in aisle trial. Picture by Chris Bull

The Transformation & Retail Support Centre teams will continue listening and designing solutions with colleagues, for colleagues by harnessing your passion and energy. We know by working with our stores, logistics and here in Angel Square, together, as One Co-op we can…

  • Develop simple, intuitive projects and solutions for colleagues
  • Create meaningful experiences and shopping trips for members & customers
  • Deliver sustainable change supported by everyone in the Co-op
  • Build a stronger Co-op for the future
  • Connect with all of our communities and strengthen the links

We’re working on some critical plans that will deliver some great benefits for our Co-op, colleagues, members and customers – your engagement and support is much appreciated.

Watch this space and we’ll keep you updated on our key progress, successes and let us know what you think too! We know that change is hard, but any retail business that isn’t transforming will leave themselves open to disruption. So please, do support and get behind what’s on the plan.