Although he has worked in the e-commerce sector of the retail industry for the past seven years, Co-op Online Development Manager Jason Perry said it “took a while time to understand the activity of Co-op “.
Unsurprisingly, Perry was given a huge project when he was appointed Co-op Food’s senior strategy director in September 2018, at a time when the retailer did not have an online proposal.
âPart of my role and the team that was recruited was to assess what the co-op’s place should be to be online,â recalls Perry.
âIt took us a little while to understand the market, understand the co-op sector, and then come up with a plan to get us into a digital space.
âBetween September 2018 and now, we have forged many partnerships with various companies and we have been able to launch our own online grocery offer from scratch.
âRight now we are filling lots of orders from hundreds of stores and that has been one of the biggest changes for the co-op. “
Perry was promoted to head of online development in February 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK. Since then, he has worked with the team to launch its first on-demand home delivery service, install protective gear in stores due to the pandemic, and ramp up the co-op’s recruiting drive as the demand for groceries increased.
Perry’s retail experience comes from his work at Asda as well as its parent company Walmart over the past decade. At Walmart, Perry worked as director of international development, which he described as “the most valuable experience” because of how it enabled him to “scale online grocery businesses to start from nothing”.
âWe are using technology to our advantage to give customers the visibility they want into how they shop,â he said.
He also said Retail Gazette that his previous experience allowed him to adopt âdifferent ways of thinkingâ and to integrate them into the cooperative: âWhat we were able to do was, in a way, to focus on excellence.
âThe important thing for me was to have this vast experience, not only in part of the online sales, but also in the way we sell on the website, how we fill the orders.
âAll of these different experiences during my career have helped shape Co-op’s online proposition.
âWe didn’t have an online platform, so we built it from scratch. We have actually been able to use some of the best technology available. We’ve improved our delivery services so that customers can now track an order from leaving the car to arriving at the front door.
One of Co-op’s most significant click-and-collect partnerships is with John Lewis Partnership, which announced on Friday that it will expand the partnership from one year to more than 500 Co-op stores by the end. of summer. The partnership offers John Lewis customers a new delivery option by allowing them to pick up their orders online at Co-op stores.
Perry said he was “proud” of the many initiatives Co-op has launched, particularly its first on-demand home delivery service in Ramsey, Isle of Man in late June. Same-day service allows shoppers to choose from around 4,000 products on Co-op’s own online store – which offers door-to-door delivery or click-and-collect slots in as little as two hours. Perry said Ramsey was chosen as the launch pad because it was “a real community in need of more convenient and safer shopping.”
âIt was proposed to support this local community,â he said.
âCustomers can go online, place an order for pickup where they live and Co-op deliver it within two hours from there.
âColleagues in the store will then go and pick them up using the selection system we have built, and then it will be a co-op colleague who will deliver in a Co-op van for customers. “
The initiative has since been extended to a number of towns across the UK, and Perry said the cooperative was “on track to bring the service online to 650 stores this year”. He added that the grocery chain was currently rolling out its home delivery service and had gained momentum in its expansion due to “unprecedented demand.”
âWe are going to see this happen in a number of towns, villages and villages,â he said.
âWe’re obviously looking to test the type of model online on them and there are a lot of benefits to click and collect.
âWhat we’re looking to do is give our customers a choice. We believe that click and collect is a good choice for customers. It is practical and adapts to their life. It’s a way to mitigate the risk of going in and out of stores and having interactions with people.
âOur role as a convenient retailer is to provide that convenience by choosing how they want to shop with us.
âWe’ve been working faster to increase slots by the thousands on a weekly basis now. By the end of the year, we will be in a very good position with our store network.
Perry said Retail Gazette one of the positives of the coronavirus pandemic was that it made an âexcitingâ change to the co-op.
âAs a company, we’ve really adapted. From an online perspective, it has helped us scale even faster than we already were, âhe explained.
“We were able to launch our own online grocery offer from scratch”
âWhat we are seeing with online is that thanks to Covid, customers are more willing to shop with us.
âSo they tried the chain online, they’re new to the co-op, they see the benefits and come back and shop more with us. “
While the co-op has been able to “easily adapt” to changing customer behavior, Perry said the retailer has grown rapidly and online is one of them.
âDuring the pandemic, we recruited over 5,000 colleagues,â he said.
âMany people who worked in the hospitality industry had lost their jobs, so we recruited colleagues to work not only in our supply chain, but also in stores that stock shelves helping fulfill online orders.
“We did it in seven days.”
Although Covid-19 is forcing grocers to speed up their supply chains as demand for essential items increases, Perry said Retail Gazette that this was not the only challenge the co-op has faced in recent months.
âThere is always the challenge of being relevant to customers,â he said.
âIf retailers never see this as a challenge, then they are not customer centric.
âThere are many examples of companies that didn’t adapt and stay relevant, and where they unfortunately went bankrupt.
âAt Co-op, we want to be guided by customers and how they want to shop.
âOur customers prefer to shop several times a week rather than just one large store, and if you look at how we built our offer online the same day, you will see that it is suitable for our customers.
“There is always the challenge of being relevant to customers”
âThere’s always that challenge of ‘look, we’re doing a great job, but how can we develop better and faster? “
âWe receive feedback from customers, we receive feedback from colleagues. And of course, we also have a lot of members shopping with us.
âThey are always very committed to telling us what is right, what is wrong and how we can improve. We have taken this feedback from customers to improve the operating model.
Perry also believes the Covid-19 pandemic may have forever changed the retail landscape.
âIf you look at any of the penetration statistics online at the moment, we have seen more penetration in the past 12 weeks than we have had in the previous 10 years,â he said. .
âFor us at the co-op, we always see the benefit of being in our physical locations and being close to customers and what they want.
âThese will be things that will stay with us forever.
âFrom an online perspective, we are continuing to roll out our services. There’s a lot going on that we’ll likely see over the next few months.
âFor Co-op, we continue to open new stores. We will expand online to more places with click and collect on delivery.
âAnd we will continue to test and learn.
âAs a company, we are convinced that we have put in place the right strategy to remain relevant, especially for another 175 years. “