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).

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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.

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

In-Store Bakery: How colleagues are shaping change

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We recently launched some great improvements to our ISB production pad. It’s been an interesting journey, and a great example of how colleagues in stores can shape the changes that remove complexity.

The new ISB production Pad is a move away from the old paper based process – our stores now receive their ISB pad via email with all the information they need for the following day’s bakes. The forecast shows the predicted sales for the next day and is generated using 2 year’s worth of sales data, as well as other factors including weather, seasonal events and waste.

Shaped by Colleague Insight

Store colleagues have been crucial in helping us design and launch the new process, and it has been their feedback and insight that has shaped the new tool. We had some great insights from colleagues on the new process (To read about how our West Didsbury store’s experience, click here ). After our initial trial we learned from colleagues that the tool needed some improvements.

Stores told us they’d would like us to change the look, feel and grouping of products – we changed this and have received really positive feedback. Colleagues also told us about the improvements they’d like to see in our forecast. We’ve already increased the forecast across a range of products, and we’re also working on sending out the forecast earlier in the day.  Additionally, we listened to colleague views on changing the AM and PM quantity split to help improve store efficiency and simplicity.  We have now updated this, so there will be more efficient bakes in place.

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We haven’t stopped yet

We want to thank store colleagues for your support in landing the changes, and we will continue to put this insight at the heart of the further ISB Improvements we have planned for later in 2018. We’re looking to remove the current pad completely towards the end of the year, so you’re only using the new and improved automated version – we’ll update you as soon as we can, stay tuned!

 

Shifts: The story so far

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Shifts is our brand new mobile website made especially for Co-op Food colleagues, to enable you to view schedules on mobile devices, as well as on the normal in-store rota.

Back in early 2017 we got together with our colleagues in Digital to think of ways to help colleagues working in-store. By the end of the summer we’d whittled down many ideas to 3 potential new products and services:

  1. Shifts (formerly My Schedule)
  2. Task Manager
  3. How do I?

Then, we got to work with colleagues from across the business, including those in-store, to see what we could achieve.

I want to talk to you about Shifts. On Monday 23 April we’ll open the website for all Co-op Food colleagues to use if you would like to, after just over a year of working to make this product the best it can be.

The road to launching Shifts

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It’s been a long yet fast-paced road of working on Shifts, always with colleague-users in mind. It’s our colleague-users, those in-store who’ll be using this product from Monday, who have been helping shape Shifts with their feedback and insight from the shop floor.

Once we’ve launched Shifts to the Co-op Food colleague community, we’ll be looking at updates and new features to launch this Summer. We’ll keep you updated on our progress on this blog and on the Co-op Colleagues Facebook Page.

Watch our live Show and Tell

Together with my colleague Paul we hosted a Show & Tell last night on YouTube for colleagues interested in how we developed Shifts, with the opportunity to ask questions in live chat. You can watch a recording of the show and tell on Co-op YouTube.

What colleagues had to say about Shifts

I have to thank the hundreds of colleagues from stores across the country who worked with us on trialing Shifts in both the Alpha (first stage testing) and Beta (second stage testing). Without you, the product wouldn’t be what it is. Here’s what colleagues had to say about Shifts:

https://youtu.be/Fmxm2nePQDM

Thanks again to everyone involved in creating Shifts. Access Shifts from 23 April at coop.co.uk/shifts

Chris Ward

Product Manager

Showing we Care – Old Uniforms to benefit the Salvation Army

As Shakespeare once said “clothes maketh the man” and this is certainly true of the image we try to portray to our customers and members through our Co-op uniform. As advocates of our brand, it ensures customers know colleagues are part of the team and the community.

Taking pride in appearance is important to our store colleagues. At the Retail Support Centre we try to guarantee colleagues can access the right uniform at the right time, as we recognise the lasting impression a poor or incorrect uniform can give our customers and members.

All Change

Over the years we have seen many variations of the uniform, and with each new style we have stacked stock high to allow colleagues to access what they need, when they need it. This has left us with a massive amount of legacy stock that we have already paid for but can no longer use.

The launch of our new pioneer brand, and the move away from the Black and Green uniform, has given the Retail Loss and Costs team an opportunity to complete a full review of the stock we have, and we have identified 14 lines, over 2000 items, which are now surplus stock. This includes shirts, trousers, skirts and polos, some of which haven’t been part of our uniform for several years! These are all new, good quality items which, after a little bit of de-branding, can be put to good use elsewhere.

Showing we care by doing what matters most

Working in partnership with our uniform supplier Dimensions, and our own internal Customer and Community team, we have identified one of our many charity partners to help us distribute this surplus clothing to people who can make good use of it. And so after months of ground work, 84 boxes of clothing, nearly £20,000 of stock, have been distributed to help people in other areas of the country.

Our community partner, The Salvation Army, have distributed this stock to its many charity shops around the UK, allowing people to purchase a bargain and help a good cause in the process. The Salvation Army allows us to distribute on a wide scale whilst still supporting causes close to our Co-op heart – modern slavery, homelessness and people in poverty.

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It’s not always about saving money

Often the bearers of bad news, the Retail Loss and Costs team are not usually the ones to give money away! However, we are constantly working with other Retail Support Centre teams to ensure the best outcome is achieved for all our Colleagues, Customers and Members.

Being able to fix problems in the background allows the team to see things from a different perspective, and this is just one example where the result is absolutely not about saving money, but about doing what matters most for us all in a Simple, Meaningful and Sustainable way.

Sarah Bedwell, Retail Loss & Costs

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.

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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.

Simplifying Fresh Reductions

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Removing complexity is one of the most important ways the Retail Support Centre can help our store colleagues. One of the most common issues we’ve heard from colleagues is that our fresh reduction process wasn’t working.

Colleagues told us our reductions matrix was too complicated and the timing was not right. Having different processes for long life and short life products adds complexity and can lead to products being missed and ‘out of code’ products being left. We were reducing too many products which is time consuming and damages customer perception about the quality of our food.

We’ve listened to colleagues, and to enable stores to focus on serving our customers at our busy times, we’ve made fresh reductions process a lot simpler. We’ve changed the frequency of the checks, and the exceptions. We’ve also empowered colleagues to choose the best time to complete first reductions for their store, and to override the iRTC system where they may have store-specific challenges which need to be taken into account.

When we trialed the new process, we had some really positive feedback from colleagues. But we also learnt a lot too. We’ve learned that following the new process exactly (as it’s written) is the key to saving time and reducing waste. But how have our colleague found the new process? We spoke to a few of our store colleagues to find out how the new process has impacted their stores….

“The new process is much better as it give us more time to get it right. Because we have until 10am on the product date it allows us to be more flexible.  If something unexpected happens like a late delivery, it means we can pick up the process the following morning. It’s helped eased pressure on the late jobs which has really reduced stress in store”

Gina, Petrol Harrogate Rd

“The new process is really much simpler and easier for us”

Ifte, Southwark Mill street

“It’s working really well, I didn’t think it would as our store previously had high level of waste, but since the new system was introduced our waste has been much better, our split has improved to 80/20…….Its so much simpler now that we use the same rule for both long and short life products, and we’ve found the system is giving a much better price on the first reduction”

Tammy, Alnwick Bondgate

But we aren’t taking our foot off the gas – We’ll continue too look at how the process can be improved – We’ll be using data from the new process to improve the suggested prices generated by iRTC which will help products sell through at the first reduction.  We’ll soon have simpler reporting to help us improve our range and waste, and we’ll be looking at introducing improvements to our ambient reduction process later in 2018.