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Co-op drives up use of membership app to 1.3m users, eyes ecommerce play

Co-op app: success from testing and iteration

Co-op, an early adopter of mobile in retail, has seen its membership app explode to reach 1.3 million users and rank number one in the App Store’s Top 10 Shopping Apps, as it looks to integrate its card into Apple Wallet and roll out an exciting ecommerce venture.

Speaking on a webinar produced by InternetRetailing, Co-op’s head of digital products Adam Warburton said that the revamped app received more than 16,000 downloads in the first two days of launch. But it wasn’t an overnight success.

“It’s been a bumpy ride as we’ve started to figure out what customers want, what they don’t want. I think we’ve really settled on something in a moment that’s really winning, and working for customers,” says Warburton.

Co-op started its app journey in 2017, but with no real idea of where it wanted to go. Much of what it had on the web didn’t translate to an app and, as a consequence, uptake was low. Management,however, took the bold step of sticking with it and, through a large amount of A/B testing, iterative releases and constant reevaluation, the retailer slowly started to form the basis of the app it has today.

“You might think of us as a food retailer, but we’re actually the biggest funeral care business in the UK and we’ve got a big insurance business, legal services and health business – so for us it wasn’t just about one app or multiple apps across one business it was actually like, how does funeral care and food play together, and they’re not naturally adjacent into the same experience?” explains Warburton.

“So what we did is we came together and said, ‘we’ll have a single app, but that will only be for food and membership and everything else won’t live in the app’,” he says. “So, you actually will find very little reference those other businesses inside our app because we wanted to have a single app that was focused on doing a few things and fitting them really well.”

By not going down the multi app strategy, Co-op decided to have to have a few things inside the app and do them really well and so adopted a strategy of testing small trials at every stage and with every idea.

“So ultimately we decided what we needed was a single app strategy, around food and membership that will come together,” says Warburton. “Food is high volume and high frequency, so it’s perfect for a mobile experience and membership is essentially our USP as a business, it’s what we are. So, we thought our opportunity was one that fused those things together.”

Working with Apadmi, the retailer then set about looking at how to optimise its app so that it would get found. Emma Allison, head of product marketing at Apadmi, picks up the story: “ASO is essentially the App Store equivalent of SEO and is the process of optimising your product page to boost visibility and to get that percentage of users who convert to a download as high as possible. Essentially the ultimate goal for any ASO campaign is to generate more organic downloads.”

She continues: “For the Co op we’ve got some really interesting feedback from the team at Google around tweaking some areas of material design on one piece of feedback that we implemented just a couple of weeks after the relaunch was to add more touch feedback –  again, tying back to the iterative releases and enhancements approach.”

Allison also points out that being featured in Google and Apple stores can really drive downloads and conversions, as well as ratings and reviews. “An 89% increase in downloads can happen if you jump from being a three star app to a four star app, but actually the more ratings that you have, and the higher your app rating, the more likely you are to appear in search results for those keywords that you’re optimising for,” she explains.

“So when the current relaunch was done, we had an issue with some users having a problem with login, which brought the average score down – hitting 2.8 at one point. So we used Google Firebase to SAP event tracking across those parts of the app, and essentially defined the criteria to highlight users that were having a positive experience to balance out those users that were having that login issue. What the prompt did it was generate about 17 times more returns a week than we were getting previously, because we were targeting users that were coming back the app for selected offers. Having that positive experience saw the app inundated with five star reviews, and so we managed to jump up to that 4.7 star rating easy in the app stores now in the Co-op apps got over 60,000 ratings and it’s rapidly growing each week.”

So what’s next for the Co-op app? According to Warburton there’s a new promotion live at the moment in the app to acquire more members, and the retailer is going to continue to optimise for more relevant keywords and screenshots.  

Naturally, the company is going to be doing some more testing leading to new iterations coming soon, Warburton says. “We shall also add some features and there’s an exciting ecommerce integration coming soon. And team is also working on our most asked for feature in app reviews, which is to have your Co-op cards stored in your Apple and Google Wallet.”

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