Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retailers in the UK, operating 260 convenience stores, 125 funeral directors and other specialist outlets, all together generating an annual revenue of approximately £820 million.
In recent years, many retail organisations have been looking to seed innovation accelerators into their businesses with the aim of embedding “digital thinking and culture” into their teams. For example, John Lewis last year ran its fifth annual JLab programme, showing the success and longevity of these types of initiatives.
With this in mind, when the Society refreshed their business strategy, a decision was made to prioritise investment in digital learning – what digital means for the business and what it means for the convenience retailer.
With the likes of Amazon entering the convenience grocery space, and the continued success of online “pure players” like Ocado, it was important that the society reaped the benefits of their existing customer insight and bricks and mortar model, whilst capitalising on digital technology to make things as convenient as possible for the consumer.
The first priority for John Armstrong (Head of IT at Central England Co-operative) was to explore how technology could be used to boost membership services, customer engagement and internal operations.