Retail Innovation Hub

The largest trading sector for co-operatives in the UK is retail. There are 416 retail co-operatives trading in the UK, with a combined turnover of £26.1bn. But how...

The largest trading sector for co-operatives in the UK is retail. There are 416 retail co-operatives trading in the UK, with a combined turnover of £26.1bn.

But how do co-ops balance their co-operative values and ethics with the need to compete and survive in an ever-evolving, and increasingly competitive market?

Is technology the key to survival? What innovations are out there for retailers? How can co-ops best implement them?

Over the next 12 months, Co-operative News will be working with Dublin-based technology company, Celtech Software to explore this very question, using our Retail Innovation Hub to look at mobile technology and media innovation, as well as online shopping, sustainability issues and more.

  • Lessons from the past: Co-operative retail societies as supply chain pioneers

    Co-operatives have been global trade innovators for over a century, according to Professor Tony Webster of the Northumbria University, who is conducting research into the history of British co-operative retail societies as supply chain pioneers. In January he gave a lecture at the Northumbria University, presenting some of his findings. In 2013 Prof Webster along with John F. Wilson and ...

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  • Italian co-op’s 'supermarket of the future' transforms the shopping experience

    Italy’s largest supermarket chain Coop Italia has unveiled its “supermarket of the future” which offers an innovative and personalised shopping experience. The flagship store, within the Bicocca University campus in Milan, features large interactive tables and real-time data screens that provide product information and personalise the shopping trip. Coop Italia has also re-thought the ...

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  • Automation: What does the future of retail look like?

    As automation plays a growing role in the retail sector, co-operatives are exploring the opportunities and challenges brought by technological developments. Retail automation can be described as using various devices and technologies to automate operations to lower costs and enhance productivity. Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of the Institute of Grocery Distribution, ...

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  • Indian co-operative bank responds to demonetisation by launching mobile app

    A co-operative bank in Kerala, India, has found an innovative solution to the country’s liquidity problem following demonetisation. Thenhipalam Co-operative Rural Bank Limited in Malappuram has launched a digital currency, COOPaisa, which enables customers to buy goods worth up to Rs 10,000 (£180) per day. Last month prime minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 ...

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  • Co-ops are targeting creative thinkers among customers and outsiders

    A recent study by the Vienna University of Economics and Business found that new product ideas generated by customers are more successful than products developed by companies’ in-house designers. The report claims ideas generated by communities of users tend to boost sales and be more user-friendly. Retailers are looking at attracting ideas from creative thinkers and co-ops are among ...

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  • Could blockchain technology put co-ops at the front of the digital revolution?

    Emerging technology was a recurring theme at the International Summit of Co-operatives in Quebec last month, where delegates looked at how it can be used by co-ops. "With social media it is possible for a new generation of co-ops to move quickly if they have a new idea,” economist Jeremy Rifkin told delegates. “And co-operatives have the industries, the people and the ...

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  • Optimising for member focus: How innovation and automation can help co-ops put members first

    Darragh Fanning, founder and managing director of Celtech Software, explores how innovation and automation can co-ops put their members first... In a competitive trading environment where there are continuing pressures for all co-ops on margin, having a culture of ‘innovation’ and ‘automation’ is absolutely fundamental to future success and business growth. Retailers need to be able to ...

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  • Danish co-op pioneers with innovative mobile payment app

    Co-operatives throughout Europe have been providing customers with new ways to pay, championing retail innovation and transforming the landscape with technology. COOP Danmark – the largest retailer of consumer goods in Denmark – is to roll out a new Beep and Pay mobile payment app across all its stores next month. The initiative allows customers to scan items into their basket and pay at ...

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  • Experts give top tips for improving customer support

    Building a personal relationship with customers is becoming increasingly important in a world of technology where consumers are better informed and have higher expectations. Market research firm Forrester found that 85% of consumers buy from companies they have strong emotional connections with. Harvard Business Review says customers who are “fully connected” emotionally are 52% more ...

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  • Co-op Group guards the front line in war on cyber fraud

    With cash payment becoming a thing of the past, cyber security is a growing concern for retailers. Consumer trends suggest mobile phone payment will outstrip cash and card by 2025 – in the past 12 months alone, contactless payments at the Co-op Group have tripled, recently hitting nearly 11 million transactions a month. But consumers are worried about security and expect retailers to ...

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  • Balancing progress with ethics in the digital world: Q&A with Emer Coleman

    Open data expert Emer Coleman has joined the Co-op Group as technology engagement advisor, where she will focus on ensuring that the on-going digital transformation strategy of the business helps the wider community. Her experience spans government, the arts and journalism. She was deputy director for digital engagement in the Cabinet Office, and is chair of the Open Data Governance Board ...

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  • Co-ops race to keep up as technology transforms the landscape

    Customers are increasingly keen to shop little and more often – and stores are trying to provide a different retail experience to match this change. Some supermarkets are trying to appeal to customers by using the latest technology while others are innovating by launching new shop formats. Another concern for retailers is growing their online business by integrating their online platforms ...

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  • A Midcounties store, where revitalising the society's food offering has been seen as vital for survival in the retail market.

    Co-operative retailers must drive ‘revolution in food’

    As part of the IGD Convenience Retailing Summit in London on 16 June, Phil Ponsonby from Midcounties Co-operative told delegates that convenience stores must revise their range and style for the modern shopper. At the time of the summit, Mr Ponsonby was group general manager for food retail. He has since been appointed deputy chief executive for trading. Mr Ponsonby explained how ...

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  • Delegates gather at the IGD Convenience Retail Summit on 16 June in central London.

    Innovation can continue to drive co-op and convenience retail

    As convenience continues to forge ahead as the major growth area for grocery retailing, the challenge for retailers such as co-operatives is how to make the most of the trend and increase sales. At the IGD Convenience Retailing Summit on 16 June, retail analysts looked at the ways in which innovation and innovative thinking can increase customer spend and keep convenience retailers ahead ...

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  • Fruit on the shelf at SuperBrugsen, part of the Coop chain in Denmark. The co-op has been cited as a good example of innovation within retailing.

    Five ways that business transformations fail...

    ...(and five ways that retail co-operatives haven’t) KPMG’s report, Succeeding in disruptive times, lists some of the most common reasons that business transformations don’t succeed. One in three CEOs KPMG interviewed say their organisations have failed to achieve the value they anticipated from previous transformation initiatives. What were the reasons behind these failures? And what are ...

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  • A cheese counter at Midcounties Co-operative. The UK imports 38% of the food it eats – of that, 71% is from EU nations. Post-Brexit, retailers must now adapt to disruptive times.

    Innovation and transformation in disruptive times

    Last month auditor KPMG published a report titled ‘Succeeding in disruptive times: Three critical factors for business transformation success’. Little could they have predicted just how disruptive those times ahead would become. The business case around Brexit was ill-articulated on both sides. The Leave campaign said that outside the EU, the UK would be able to put in place its own ...

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  • Retail innovation: How technology can help retail co-ops thrive

    In the UK, the largest trading sector for co-operatives is retail. There are 416 retail co-operatives trading in the UK, with a combined turnover of £26.1bn – the largest include John Lewis, The Co-operative Group, Midcounties Co-operative and Central England Co-operative.

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  • 'Co-operatives need to articulate how loyalty is rewarded – and extend relevant membership offerings – to this generation' – Celtech founder and managing director Darragh Fanning

    Technology, innovation and membership

    Co-operatives revolutionised the concept of ‘membership’ and ‘dividends’. As membership grew, UK households all knew their ‘divi’ number – and if it wasn’t your mum’s you knew, it was your gran’s. This is still how co-op membership and the dividend is largely seen by millennials. For someone in their 20s, the divi was something for previous generations, and not necessarily something ...

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  • Retail technology company Celtech is working with co-operatives keep up with a rapidly changing industry

    Can real-time retail data help co-ops better engage with customers?

    As technology continues to change the way we shop, retail co-operatives are exploring different channels to engage with their customers. In an interview with Co-operative News, Darragh Fanning, founder and managing director of Celtech Software, explains the main trends facing the retail sector – and how co-ops can respond...

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