The company I investigated: Co-operative Group

The Co-operative Group offers many services. Today, in Britain, food retail accounts for nearly half of the co-ops turnover. Food stores are obviously the most recognisable face of the co-op on the high street, but the co-ops general picture is much broader As well as travel agencies, funeral services, housing, the co-op has a bank (The Co-operative Bank or CIS) which offers car dealership and credit unions and much more. 

In this report, I will be studying the four main functional areas of my organisation, sales, purchasing, finance and operations and how ICT helps the company to function properly. I will be looking in detail at how ICT is used by the Co-op to manage the operation of its stores in the UK. As well as interviewing members of staff from my local Co-op/Late shop, I have gathered information from the Co-ops website, www.co-op.com to cover aspects such as the history of the organisation and other less obvious services it offers. 

General Information- The Late Shop The Late Shop part of the Co-operative Group; a high street supermarket selling food, electrical, home ware, funeral and financial services. It has a sufficiently ran delivery service which allows buyers to have electrical goods safely delivered to the door and you even can purchase goods on-line.  

Size- Staff, stores and customers

In the UK, the Co-operative group employs around 100,000 people, the Late Shop, which I observed, has 17 workers, both of which work full time and part time: thirteen being part time workers and four being full time. The shop takes around �30,000 per week.

Customer Requirements Many companies face the two conflicting pressures from their customers: 1. Customers want high quality products but want to pay as little as possible for them. 2. Customers also want products to be delivered as quickly as possible after placing an order. Therefore the purchasing department needs to obtain high-quality raw materials but pay little as possible for them.

"The Co-operative Group operates over 1,600 stores throughout the UK and accounts for over 25 % of co-operative retail trade. Stores range from small community stores to the large supermarkets. Although very different, each forms part of a large organisation committed to high standards of service to customers and to our position on key issues." ICT is used to evaluate and to record sales.

The electronic till terminals or EPOS (electronic point of sale) in store record information after the product has been scanned. They record the price of the product; they deduct any money off the price if it is on sale or if it's on by one get one free ect and information can be stored of how many of each product has been sold.

Scanning the products barcodes using infrared is easier than typing the product code manually because it allows the till operator to get more customers though the checkout. This method is better than typing in the product number in by hand because there is less chance that a mistake will be made.

Information is sent by e-mail to head office and information on how well products are selling is stored at head office. This allows managers and stock controllers to study how well, or how badly a product is selling so they can determine if it needs to go on sale or not, if they need more of a product or if they would like to give the shop similar or the same product. If one shop is not selling many of a product, the information in the database can be used to decide whether they need to send the stock to another store where in which it is more popular. E-mail is good because e-mails can be saved and re-read when the information is needed, it is almost instant too.

Customers can use credit cards to pay for their goods. The magnetic strip is scanned and read at the terminal and information from the card is read to get authorization from the bank to see if they can accept the payment. This is good for the customer because they don't have to carry cash around and there is not a risk of it being stolen.

There is also a customer loyalty card. This adds credits to your own Co-op store account, each month when you have a certain amount of credits you receive vouchers for different products and services to spend at the Co-op. The Co-op used to be popular for having a stamp saving scheme, this method has become less popular because having your card swiped is easier and stamps don't get lost.

Sales were disturbed in store when locally, another supermarket opened. The Co-op needed to find ways to help keep in business. They tried new ways of attracting customers like, introducing a bakery in store, with traditional cakes, pastries and bread; also the homemade sandwiches have increasingly become popular with the offices in the area. The store also tried making an, Indian, take away type deli.

This was not very popular because there are many restaurants in the town. New customers, such as office workers at lunchtime, have been attracted to the stores new ideas; I would say that their new products have worked quite effectively. When the other supermarket opened, electrical goods at the Co-op became more popular.