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.

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.

Tablets1
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.

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. 

How we’re simplifying crime reporting

In their recently published annual crime survey, The British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that retail crime is at an all-time high having risen by 6% against 2016 to a staggering £700m.  The number of violent incidents has also seen a huge increase and reflects a growing concern in society around the challenges facing the retail industry in the UK.

When crime and security incidents occur in our stores it’s really important that every incident is logged. This enables our Retail Support Centre teams to monitor and analyse crime data and ultimately drive the actions and changes that help to keep our colleagues safe. The safety of our colleagues is always a priority, and we’ve listened to store colleague’s feedback on the existing reporting process – one of the biggest concerns our colleagues have raised is how time consuming it is for stores to report security incidents. Unfortunately this often leads to only a small number of incidents being reported, especially if it is relatively low value theft.

A Mobile Solution

Kingdom 1We’ve listened hard and based on this feedback we have been working with Kingdom to develop an app that will make this much easier for store teams to log minor security incidents. It’s stressful enough for our colleagues when they have to deal with incidents in store, so anything that can simplify the crime reporting process for our colleagues is hugely beneficial for our coop.

We recently released Kingdom Konnect – an app that give stores an easy and simple way to log incidents on their mobile devices. So after an incident, instead of having to go back into the office and log on to the PC, colleagues can now complete security incident reports on the go – whether it’s on the shop floor, at the kiosk, or in the warehouse. The app gives our colleagues a quick and easy way to log minor shoplifting and anti-social behaviour incidents – and it takes less than a minute to do. Many colleagues are already using the app, and we’ve heard some great feedback so far

“This is amazing! It’s easy to use and no excuse not to report crime….”

Liam, Cambridge

“It’s really brilliant to use – Everyone is using it. Logging incidents is much quicker than before. The ease of it is that it’s in your pocket so you can use it as soon as an incident happens”

Ian, Dunscroft

“It’s so much easier than logging it on the back office”

Hannah, Somerton

The information logged via the app is vital, as it allows us to gather greater insight and understanding of crime in our stores. Having access to this information in turn helps support centre teams make the right decisions for colleague safety and allows us to react with resource where needed.

Guard
Jamaal, our Guard at Butcher Hill has been using the new App

All stores will be given access when store tablets launch later this year, however we know from listening to colleagues that they welcome the opportunity to use their own devices in the meantime. So, if colleagues choose to, they can download and access from personal devices (Colleagues should see week 9’s Bulletin for info) . We’ve seen a fantastic number of colleagues starting to use it already. This is a great step forward in simplifying crime reporting for our stores, but we haven’t finished yet. Later in 2018, we have plans to introduce an all-encompassing Health and Safety system that will be accessible from our store mobile devices which will bring further improvements to help us support the safety of our colleagues in store.

How sketching sessions can help us make our stores more efficient

We’ve been collecting ideas for digital products and services with people that know most about problems in stores – our colleagues. 

Recently, our area and regional managers got together for their annual conference. During the afternoon we held breakout sessions where the Leading the Way team showed some of the digital products we’ve been working on. And we also ran a ‘sketching session’.

Sketching is a technique Leading the Way has been using to help us pool ideas from subject matter experts. We’ve been doing this both before and during the time we’ve been building products and services. We want to hear from the people who know the most about our problem space – after all, they are the people who experience it every day so their input is really important.  

Then we build on these ideas. Here’s an early sketch of MySchedule, something we’re now working on. It’s amazing to think that just a few months ago, this idea was locked away in someone’s head!

Image shows doodles from a sketching session.

And here’s the real thing:

Image shows MySchedule where teams can find out about their schedule.

How sketching sessions work

We read the group a series of questions and asked them to sketch their response to the questions. So, for example, one of the questions was: ‘How can we make communications simpler in stores?’ Here’s an example sketch that answers that question.

Image of a doodle from a sketching session. doodle shows a megaphone with 'clear, concise message' written above it.
You don’t have to be able to draw to take part. A good sketch can be a scribble, some words, a diagram or absolutely anything that can convey an idea to us.

Anyway, we ran 4 sessions with around 60 people in each, so we got absolutely loads of feedback in sketch format.

photograph of people taking part in a sketching session.

So many ideas! How we filtered

We collected all 500 sketches, took them back to our team and this week we’ve been sorting them and grouping them into themes. We’ve used a ‘filter’ (basically a series of check boxes) to keep us focussed when we sort. You can read more about our filter in our post about our discovery into our food stores.

Pulling out common themes

We’re already seeing lots of common themes in the sketches. For example, lots of people think we need simpler communications ie, just one single way of finding out important information when you’re at work or elsewhere. The sketches also told us that many of you feel swamped with messages and tasks being delivered in numerous ways – see the sketch below.

photograph of doodle from sketching session showing a laptop with the message 'you have 600 emails' on it depicting being overwhelmed by messages.

We also see that you think our stores need some sort of ‘toolkit’ that will make it easier to complete tasks and help colleagues to do all the things they need to do within the time available.

photograph of a doodle from a sketching session that show a 'co-op swiss army knife' depicted like a toolbox to help get all tasks done.

We’re working on some stuff already

We’re really pleased to see that some of the work we are already doing matches up with the ideas people had during the sketching sessions. And even better, we think that some of these sketches may take our new products even further. We’ll take the ideas that fit best and build them into our roadmap.

Here are some that map to our How Do I product.

photograph of sketches that link to our How do I product

What we’ll do next

We’re still working through the sketches, collating the themes and seeing how they can influence what we do next.

Thanks so much to everyone that got involved on the day. It was great to have your support. We’ll blog again soon to share our progress.

Kim Morley
Delivery manager, Co-op Digital