Learnings from the Co-op: Trends driving eRetail in 2021

Man and woman shopping in a supermarket

2020 was the biggest mobile shopping year to date, with global consumers collectively spending 82 billion hours in shopping apps according to Internet Retailing. The UK experienced a 30% growth compared to 2019.

"Whilst some customer habits will return to normal, others have changed forever."

Steve Rowe, Marks and Spencer

The trend for growth is continuing to gain pace. In Q4 2020, UK traffic grew by 61% on mobile. There has been a steady increase over the last year in mobile taking traffic from tablet and desktop, which is also translating to an even bigger increase in order growth (115% in Q4 202). 

Predicted smartphone usage is predicted to hit 53.96 million by 2022, with Mcommerce sales from retail projected to hit over £100bn by 2024.

Mobile sales are clearly outstripping the growth levels of other channels, and yet some e-retail vendors still don’t have mobile as a clear and central part of their strategy. Why is this, and where should you start? 

The trends shaping today’s ecommerce and retail sector?

Let’s start by reviewing the themes shaping today’s mobile shopping landscape.

    Live streaming

    Gen Z


    The decline of cash

“Corona has accelerated the transition to digital retail by five years.”

Theo Paphitis, Former Dragons Den panelist and retailer

Loyalty is king – 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognise, remember, and provide relevant offers & recommendations.Learnings from the Co-op: How did they build a successful loyalty app?

Taking all of this on board, where do you start with your mobile loyalty strategy? The Apadmi and Internet Retiling webinar took a deep dive into the successful launch of the Co-op member app, with a fascinating insight to a real world use case.

The brief to the Co-op digital team in 2017 came from senior management and was a simple one… “We want an app.” 

The Co-op at the time was prioritising the mobile channel and wanted an app because they knew they should have one as part of their digital plan – without necessarily having a strategy for why. 

Firstly, the team decided to turn the membership card into a digital card so customers didn’t need their wallet to collect points. They decided to launch it and test the response, with a small budget to a closed group of 5,000 users. After the launch, the 7-day retention rate was only 10%, and only 1% after 30-days. This rang alarm bells for the team and indicated that the app had prioritised utility of the card over value-added customer engagement. 

The Co-op team headed back to the drawing board and decided to develop a mobile strategy. 

The decision was made to have a single app focused solely on food and membership – a deliberate choice to deliver a few things that would offer value to the customer and do them brilliantly well.

“Every time we wanted to trial an idea, we would spin up a test app – i.e. pay in an aisle idea, but this didn’t work. We spent a little, learnt and move on”

Louise Nicholas Co-op, Product Manager

In 2019, the app had evolved in look and feel after periods of test and learn, with constrained beta programs testing new ideas. With 75,000 users, the team began to analyse the design and experience with eye tracking research, qualitative sessions and customer feedback. 

“Designing for an app is a very different medium to web design. We paid a lot of attention to make sure it was a nice and rewarding experience for people.”

Louise NicholasCo-op, Product Manager

In 2020, the Co-op launched its new membership proposition. Having previously paid a lot of attention to the offers and design, the team hadn’t yet explored the community proposition to reflect its charity donations and member rewards. The app introduced more ways to save money and browse Co-op initiatives, featured a working QR card which had included software and hardware updates to the in-store tils so that offers would be applied directly at the checkout. 

The Co-op approach to success is based on:

    Speaking to members: Getting real customer insight and feedback 

    Test and learn: Small, regular releases revolving around testing and learning, increasing in scale each time. The Co-op team has not been afraid to limit the usage to test the value of new ideas. 

    Creating a halo effect by being intentional with offers and notifications 

    Ensuring there was a strong value proposition, backed by customer retention statistics, with the benchmark for retention moving from 1% in 30 days with the first version of the app, to 40%+ in the latest version

Success metrics 

With over 3 years’ of learnings and continued innovation of its mobile strategy and app development from Apadmi, the re-launched Co-op Membership App received over 80,000 downloads in the first two days of launch, with a number 1 ranking in the App store’s Top Shopping Apps. 

“The app has now had 1.3m downloads, this is sometimes seen as a vanity metric but for less than 12 months after launch, to have around 10% of our customers live on the app is something we are proud of.” Adam Warburton, Co-op 

The Co-op has seen evidence that customers are heading to store a lot more and has expanded its target audience from predominantly 50+ to a much younger audience. 

With the help of the Apadmi team who worked alongside the Co-op to optimise the app, its app rating also moved from 2.8 to 4.7/5 by targeting active users and prompting them to leave a review. 

Tips on ongoing app optimisation:

    Test one thing at a time

    Test the design and order of the screenshots in the app stores – utilise A/B testing wherever possible 

    The approach to all areas of development in the app has to be iterative – always measured and evaluated

3 reasons to watch the webinar

    Discover the exclusive features and enhanced strategy that boosted the Co-op’s membership offering, driving record downloads and membership scheme interaction. 

    Learn how Co-op ensured their members saved money on their purchases in-store through in-app deals

    Hear the latest trends and insights in digital transformation in retail from Apadmi.

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