Members of the Co-operative Group will start to receive their new membership cards – and start benefiting from the relaunched membership scheme – from Wednesday 21 September.
Announcing the date on the Co-op Blogs, Group chief executive Richard Pennycook praised “18 months of hard work by colleagues all across the organisation” in the lead up to the launch. From this date, all members will benefit from the 5% and 1% reward scheme announced at its AGM in May. This will see 5% of the value of the Co-op branded products bought given back to the member, with an additional 1% given to local causes chosen by members.
Mr Pennycook added that it will take a few weeks for all cards to arrive, but confirmed that rewards will begin straight away whether a member uses their old card or a new one.
The scheme was rolled out to staff in early July, and have so far collectively earned £167,500 for themselves through the 5% reward and £36,500 for communities through the 1%.
Overall spending, including sales of own-branded products are “up significantly” compared to the same time last summer, said Mr Pennycook, adding that it’s not just the 5% and 1% that’s changing shopping habits.
“We know that the improvements in our own brand products and the investment we’ve made in reducing prices are also making a big difference to sales,” he said. “So as we prepare for the big launch all the indicators are looking good.
“From my own visits to stores in recent weeks I can see how well colleagues understand the new rewards and how keen they are to start explaining them to our members.”
Mr Pennycook also explained some of the changes made to the new system as a direct result of feedback, including real-time updates of 5% and 1% account balances, and the ability to view the latest transactions.
“We have a very exciting few months ahead as we see the national response to our new Co-op Membership and watch as local communities start to see the benefits of our better way of doing business,” he added.
The Group also announced it has officially moved its web address from co-operative.coop to coop.co.uk. All 11,647 co-operative.coop links now use the new address.
The Group showcased a return to its ‘Co-op’ identity at its AGM in May, and has been working towards mirroring this in the digital arena. “We need to acknowledge how our members refer to us and search for us,” said Peter Brumby, digital channels manager at the Group. “Most people call us the Co-op and search for us without the hyphen (83% of users).”
My Brumby added: “Changing your web address is very similar to moving house. To make sure people continue to visit, you need to tell them you’ve moved. Google and Bing are the most important people to tell. If we didn’t do this correctly our site would be a lot harder to find. We also made sure our old URL co-operative.coop and our even older URL co-op.co.uk redirected to our new web address.
“Making any change to your URL is risky and will normally see a drop in visitors coming to your site via search. We predicted our website would take up to two months to recover.
“It’s still too early to tell how successful the change has been and we’ll continue to monitor, but a good indication is how quickly Google and Bing has recognised the change. This can take several weeks, but it only took a week.”