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How the Co-op is experimenting with technology to develop its grocery business

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The Co-op is experimenting with technology in its stores and with new ways to deliver as it adapts to the way its shoppers want to buy.

The retailer’s trials of pay-in-aisle technology in its convenience stores have been previously reported. But today’s Co-op Group interim results also showed it has held small trials for delivering through Deliveroo in its home area of Greater Manchester, and self-driving robots in Milton Keynes. It says it reached 200,000 festival goers through ‘pop up’ shops in partnership with Live Nation, which operates festivals from Latitude to the Isle of Wight Festival.

It also says that as a group it is taking “a digitally led approach to enter markets where there are unmet needs”. That includes in the healthcare market, where it plans to use technology to develop services that customers can use to link their healthcare needs and to find more convenienct ways of interacting with their NHS GP. Longer term, the group says it is developing digital solutions for an online marketplace.

“Across our Co-op we’re continuing to innovate, expand and look for new ways to reach more people with our distinctive Co-op offer so that the value we generate for our members can go even further,” said chief executive Steve Murrells.

The Co-op Group today reported that sales rose by 10% to £5bn in the 26 weeks to July 7, buoyed both by strong food sales – like-for-like sales were up by 4.4% and total food sales by 3% – and its acquisition of the Nisa convenience stores. Pre-tax profits rose to £26m from £14m last time, with underlying food operating profit up by 23% to £80m. 

Murrells said: “We’re moving forward at pace with our Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities plan, which we set out at the beginning of the year. We know that in order to make a difference we have to be commercially successful and our performance in the first half shows we’re delivering on that ambition. Our investment in proudcts, price and distribution channels has seen us grow revenue, profit and member value in the first six months.”

Image courtesy of The Co-op

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