Coop used heavy Excel sheets when their Store Consultants had to carry out internal audits. Now the group has created a far more efficient and data-driven workflow.
Henrik Buch Nielsen is a Store Consultant at Coop, the largest retail group in Denmark with over 1,200 supermarkets across the country. He has daily responsibility for store audits and follow-ups in 90 stores.
He and 14 other consultants ensure that Coop’s stores comply with the country’s legislation and regulations (e.g., audit and tax legislations) and the group’s internal rules.
From Excel to app-based team task management
Before Coop collaborated with Instore Excellence, Henrik Buch Nielsen and his colleagues worked in Excel, where they collected all their data. But the options in Excel didn’t meet the needs of the Store Consultants.
“I used to sit with 90 separate Excel sheets – one for each store. The same for my colleagues. The challenge was that we couldn’t compare data and see how everything was going,” says Henrik Buch Nielsen.
All stores and all data are now gathered in one team task management system. Henrik Buch Nielsen took the initiative to upgrade the old system. According to him, one of the decisive factors for choosing to work with Instore Excellence was that the app complies with the Microsoft Office suite.
“Many other companies who offer similar systems use HTML coding, and it is much more difficult to extract data from,” he explains.
Reliability, data collection, and statistics
So what must a team task management system be able to do to be an effective tool in the hands of Coop’s Store Consultants?
“The system must be operationally reliable, and we have had no problems. In addition, it’s fundamental that the system can collect the necessary data – and then transform the data into statistics that we can use to make our and the stores’ work more efficient,” says Henrik Buch Nielsen and continues:
“The system must therefore be able to extract useful statistics based on the store data collection. I drive out to 90 stores, but Coop has over 1,200 stores nationwide.
The system must allow me to see what my colleagues are doing. We can compare our results and improve efficiency across the board.
Some stores may do something extra well, or one colleague may have an extraordinary method. With Instore Excellence, the entire group suddenly has access to this data.”
The use of the app
The basis for the data collection in Coop is standardized surveys, which were transferred directly from Coop’s old system and upgraded in collaboration with Instore Excellence. But how does a Store Consultant like Henrik Buch Nielsen practically use the app in his work?
“When I’m out in the stores for audits, I use a laptop from which I have direct access to Instore Excellence’s application – I simply access it via Google Chrome. I then conduct the audit in the store in question and examine the results with the Store Manager afterward. The system then automatically sends a report.
This means that when I get home to the office, all the data I need is ready – both from my own and the group’s other stores,” explains Henrik Buch Nielsen.
NB: The same functionality is possible via an iPhone and an Android app.
Coop automatically receives various reports from the Instore Excellence system; 1) a weekly report from all stores, 2) a report on what’s happening nationally, and 3) a report for internal benchmarking.
The data from the reports are collected in the system, analyzed, and transformed into statistics, from which Store Consultants and Team Managers can identify challenges and areas of action.
Easier and more data-driven work
According to Henrik Buch Nielsen, the collaboration with Instore Excellence has meant that the Store Consultants today have a completely different everyday work life.
“The amount of data and the automation means that I can now extract data on any store in real-time and compare, e.g., specific questions with specific chains. I can see where it’s going well and where it’s not – and if it’s a national or local problem.
This ensures that I hold a local store responsible for a problem that only occurs in other regions or chains. In this way, we have a much better understanding of what’s happening in the group.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that it has made my work significantly more efficient,” says Henrik Buch Nielsen.
The app also makes his work more efficient through sheer time-saving. Among other things, many survey questions have been removed, as the Store Consultants could see – from the new amount of data – that these weren’t problem areas.
And if a store gets a score below a certain percentage, the system automatically generates a new store visit in the calendar of the responsible Store Consultant.
Implementing new IT systems may sound heavy and slow, but that’s not Henrik Buch Nielsen’s experience with Instore Excellence. According to him, it’s advantageous that Instore Excellence is a smaller – and therefore more agile – company.
“Instore Excellence has been an excellent partner in implementing an entirely new system.
They are generally extremely fast! If we have decided on a new initiative at an internal meeting, we often find that Morten has already implemented our wish on the same day or the day after.
It’s more us who slows the process down,” says Henrik Buch Nielsen and laughs.
He finds that the collaboration with the IT company has been a great success because the team behind Instore Excellence is good at coming up with suggestions for improvements and familiarizing themselves with the needs of the Store Consultants.
“We have good ping-pong, and Morten and Claus are very competent. They have been super quick to understand the needs of our department. E.g., is cash register inspections a part of our audits. Thus, the system must be able to add up numbers and not just put a mark in a box.
It wasn’t part of the original system but was quickly implemented when we asked for it.”
More innovation lies ahead
The next thing Coop and Instore Excellence are working on is a master data overview of the individual stores – so-called Geocaching. The Store Consultants would then be able to access a map of the country with an overview of all Coop’s stores.
“If I’m standing in a town and have finished my work two hours before time, I can optimize my time by seeing which stores in the immediate area have not had visitors for a long time,” explains Henrik Buch Nielsen, who sounds excited about being part of the team that innovates his area of work.
To the question of whether he would recommend Instore Excellence to others, the answer is also clear:
“Absolutely! The collaboration has made my everyday work life considerably easier. It has freed up resources across the company because we can take action in the right places based on data.”
Learn more from Coop: Team Manager: I’m more efficient, and we save money
Coop Danmark A/S is a retail company in Denmark with a market share of 38%. The group has an annual turnover of approx. DKK 50 billion, 1,200 stores, and 40,000 employees (2018).
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that it has made my work significantly more efficient.”
“It has freed up resources across the company because we can take action in the right places based on data.”