Modernising the dividend experience for Lincolnshire Co-op members
How can we use mobile phone technology to update the experience for Co-op dividend members?
The Lincolnshire Co-operative operates 215 outlets, including food stores, travel branches, pharmacies, funeral homes, post offices and a florist. As a co-operative society, it shares all its profits with members through paying a dividend, an annual dividend bonus and supporting local community groups selected by members. Often mistaken for just another store loyalty card, the dividend card means that you are a shareholder of the Co-operative with a share account and voting rights.
The concept for a new Dividend App began in 2016 when Lincolnshire Co-op started an upgrade to their systems and issued replacement dividend cards to each of their 280,000 members. Until this point, as a member's dividend was stored on their smart card, they had to go in-store to make balance enquiries or unsuspend points. Introducing a centralised member data storage provided an opportunity for members to access their dividend via website or smartphone.
The new cards would use QR codes instead of the old smart card technology. The QR codes could be shown on a mobile device and scanned at the point of sale. There was initially a problem with scanners being unable to scan a QR code displayed on a screen due to the screen's reflection. Lincolnshire Co-op overcame this problem by installing new 2D scanners across all their stores, which could more easily read a QR code or take a picture of the screen if the scan failed.
With that issue solved, the race was on to develop the Dividend App in time to launch the new Dividend Card in September 2017. We designed and built the app using the Ionic Framework and integrated it into Co-op's head office systems using a secure API. After logging in, the app allows the member to store a PIN before displaying a screen with their dividend total and unique QR code.
To provide this apparently simple experience, the app does plenty of work. Firstly, it checks the Internet connection status (as connectivity across Lincolnshire can often be difficult) before requesting information from the secure API. If a 4G connection is available, then the member Dividend is updated automatically. If no 4G connection is available, the app automatically switches to an 'offline mode', avoiding delays in using it at the checkout.
Following a successful trial, the Dividend App launched in September 2017. Since its launch, the Dividend App has become an essential component of the Lincolnshire Co-op's drive to engage with members;
"We have had great feedback from new members who have joined because we now have an app, as they didn't want a physical dividend card. We envisage this increasing as we all rely more on our phones for payment and many other functions. We have already run a focus group for our app users to get their feedback and hear their suggestions for improvements which we are building into our development plans. It will continue to evolve and that's exciting!" Laura Dunne
Head of Marketing & Membership, Lincolnshire Co-op