Five ways Coop Sverige is driving digitalisation

Date : 13 August 2020

Harriet Cohen

Senior Retail Analyst

Over the summer, Coop Sverige has invested in digitalising its business. We round up five of its innovations, including its first unstaffed store, as well as two developments from its Test Lab, the Cooper digital assistant and an Augmented Reality (AR) game. The retailer is also trialling mobile self-scanning and will add sustainability declarations on all foods.

1. Two new unstaffed stores to open

Source: Coop Sverige

The Coop Mitt consumer association is to launch two unstaffed stores in Gävle this autumn. Coop has designed a new self-scanning app to allow shoppers to scan and pay for their shopping via mobile in these stores.

The new concept 'aims to meet demand in districts where there is currently no Coop store, in sparsely populated areas and in tourist areas where unstaffed store modules can offer a wide range around the clock'.

Commenting on the launch, Meta Persdotter, CEO of Coop Mitt said, 'It will also be possible for us to reach more customers during high seasons or holidays - for example at ski resorts or during special events. In the long run, we hope that the pilot project will result in more unmanned stores around our area'.

2. Coop’s Test Lab’s first innovation: Cooper digital assistant…

Source: Coop Sverige

Coop’s Test Lab platform aims to develop ‘innovative digital services’, the first of which to launch is the Cooper digital assistant. This was developed in collaboration with UK-based EBI.AI.

It uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and is available on Coop’s online website. Initially, Cooper is able to answer a wide variety of questions, such as ‘giving prescription suggestions or how to shop online’. Over time, ‘as customers ask more questions and Cooper’s interaction with users increase, the assistant’s understanding broadens’. The retailer’s Test Lab will deliver other skills going forwards too.

Amer Mohammed, Business Area Manager Digital said, ‘Coop wants to change the industry by developing digital solutions that make it easier for our members and customers. To be at the forefront, we need to be fast as developers and dare to test different solutions to see if they add value. The Test Lab makes it possible for us to gather all the development that is done to help our customers create food joy in everyday life’.

3. …As it launches Augmented Reality (AR) in-store game

Source: Coop Sverige

The Test Lab has also created an Augmented Reality (AR) in-store game, Peppy Pals Recipe Hunt.

It allows adults and children to use Peppy Pals characters to help collect ingredients for dinner or dessert that they have chosen from Coop’s test kitchen recipe bank. These recipes change weekly, with family-friendly appeal.

The game is now being piloted in three of its large stores, Stora Coop Tumba and in Stora Coop Bromma and Stora Coop Åkersberga. Subject to the pilot, the game may then be rolled out more widely.

Commenting on the innovation, Henrik Staaf, Digital Product Manager at Coop said, ‘This is a customer experience that we believe in, where we create an adventure that both adults and children will appreciate. By creating a platform where the family can meet and inspire each other, the adults get the opportunity to handle everyday management while the younger family members have the opportunity to influence the family meal in a fun way’.

4. New sustainability declarations on all foods...

Source: Coop Sverige

Meanwhile, Coop Sverige is to rate its 17,000 strong product catalogue by ‘ten parameters that encircle sustainable development’. These ‘have been developed by WWF’s sustainable food chain initiative, which was launched in 2005 to address the major sustainability challenges in the food and grocery industry’.

The declarations will be seen by scanning an item’s barcode. Trials have started, while the retailer expects that the service will be available in full from Q1 2021.

Charlotta Szczepanowski, head of sustainability and quality said, ‘We want to simplify both for the customer and for ourselves in our purchases to make more sustainable choices. At the same time, we want to show that sustainability is complex, and that many different factors affect what is sustainable. A product can have a small climate footprint but at the same time a large negative impact on the local population's life and working environment in production’.

5. ...Plus a mobile self-scan and payment trial

Source: Coop Sverige

In other news, Coop is trialling an in-house developed app for mobile self-scanning and payment in-store in Stockholm. If the trial is successful, the concept will be rolled out more widely after the summer.

A press release for the retailer said the customer can ‘scan their goods themselves, pay for them and receive a receipt and a code to be able to get out of the self-checkout area. The possibilities with self-scanning via mobile are many and there is potential to add more services and functions that create added value for the customer, such as allergy information, table of contents or the new unique sustainability declaration (mentioned below)’.

Amer Mohammed, Business Area Manager Digital said, 'That app will be connected to Cooper, so while you are scanning, Cooper will tell you nutritional information or if something doesn't follow your diet or chosen lifestyle'.

So what do we think?

Coop Sverige joins other leading Swedish retailers in trialling unstaffed stores. ICA previously introduced its own concept, while Reitan Convenience recently unveiled its first unstaffed store. There are a variety of pure-play unstaffed stores operating in the market too.

Meanwhile, digital innovations like the Cooper digital assistant and the AR-game help to drive engagement in-store and online  demonstrate the retailer's omnichannel approach. We wait with interest to see other innovations from Coop’s Test Lab in the future.

Other Nordic retailers are also creating sustainability-focused, product level databases and communicating this to consumers using technology, helping them make more climate-friendly choices. For instance, Coop Danmark has added the ‘My Climate Imprint’ feature to its app, while Kesko shows loyal shoppers their carbon footprint calculator.

While such innovations raise awareness of sustainability implications, it will be interesting to see whether retailers will go further, offering loyal shoppers a discount on sustainable products to encourage change.

The use of mobile scan and pay has also become more common throughout the wider region. The integration of the Cooper digital assistantant should help shoppers meat their health and lifestyle goals in a more seamless way.

What next?

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