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Hello, this is the Co-op Digital newsletter - it looks at what's happening in the internet/digital world and how it's relevant to the Co-op, to retail businesses, and most importantly to people, communities and society. Thank you for reading - send ideas and feedback to @rod on Twitter. Please tell a friend about it!

[Image: deep beneath the layers of photoshop, Erik Carter]


Black Friday

Sales are down but online’s doing well on Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2020. Traffic looks bleak at stores and malls (US). The hybrid options are doing well: click and collect has permanently changed retail (“BOPIS” is how US retail analysts say “click and collect”).

Is this a sign that shoppers are in a temporary state of online-first while we’re still in an era of lockdowns and tiered restrictions? Or is it a sign of a permanent change in behaviour?

Datastories is Shopify’s sales dashboard for Black Friday - also includes the amount they’re carbon offsetting.


Meaningful vs convenient shopping

Still on Black Friday and Shopify, this newsletter by Alex Danco is very interesting:

“One of the embedded theses inside Shopify is that shopping and consumerism are actually opposites. Commerce is [...] not supposed to be frictionless: the challenge of merchants and buyers discovering each other, and building trust in each other, is what it’s all about. When we [at Shopify] use the word "shopping”, this is what we’re getting at. Shopping isn’t best when it’s as easy as possible, but rather when it’s as meaningful as possible. 

[...] if your goal is to *remove as much friction as possible from commerce*, you end up with something like Amazon - indisputably, an extremely *convenient* place to buy things; but not a great place to shop at all.”

We’ve talked before about Amazon being great for conveniently delivering things you know you want, but not as good at helping you discover things you didn’t know you wanted. (Shopify might also call discovery “shopping”.)

How Co-op goes beyond convenience: “We've doubled the amount we give to communities when our members buy selected Co-op branded products and services. Our members have already raised £15 million this year.” 


Retail news

The Shopify piece above says that they’re deliberately avoiding doing what Amazon does. Perhaps Instagram is the anti-Amazon - interesting piece on Instagram’s social commerce efforts (and other marketplace startups).

Ahold Delhaize buys 80% of online grocer FreshDirect. The Dutch grocery company gets e-commerce expertise and access to the New York market. FreshDirect gets purchasing heft and the potential to scale faster.

Unilever makes a x5 target for vegan food sales. Meanwhile Kellogg's and Britvic attack a plan to ban junk food ads online.


One click panopticon

Police in Mississippi to pilot a program to live-stream Amazon Ring cameras - a third party company will livestream video from your smart doorbell to the police. Yes, you have to opt in, but it’s not clear that that will answer all of the potential privacy questions. 

Where the front door is concerned people usually think about their safety and security: who’s trying to break into the house? Another way to think about it: if your local police service announced it was installing cameras on your neighbours’ houses that would be pointed at your house, would that feel a step too far? What happens when your privacy is sacrificed for your neighbour’s security? If everyone is being surveilled, does that lead to better behaviour or does it erode community and trust?


Progress on climate change

The Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020 shows how the world is doing with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Plenty of infovisualisations.

You can explore local government climate action plans in this public, open database - good work by MySociety.

Climate change: Can sending fewer emails really save the planet? UK officials are reportedly considering asking us to stop sending "thanks" emails - but why?


Instacart: building out delivery infrastructure

Best Buy partners with Instacart for same-day delivery across the entire US - Instacart wants its platform to handle more than just grocery delivery. 

Questions: does it matter if a retailer handles delivery to a logistics partner? Is the delivery data valuable enough that retailers should own it?


COBOL longa, vita brevis

The code that controls your money - interesting read about COBOL, the programming language driving much of our hidden financial plumbing. 

COBOL was popular because it was easy to read and write, and easy to train someone to write it. 30 year old code has had plenty of time to be debugged, so it’s old but it works. Of course, the people that wrote it are now retired, which is a challenge.


Various things

‘I thought about that a lot’ is an about-to-launch collection of 24 essays on 2020, by 24 authors.

Monzo and Starling grabbed 43% of all banking current account switches in Jan-Sep 2020. 

I traced my Covid-19 bubble and it’s enormous - this piece is at first interesting, and leads inexorably to a conclusion that you shouldn’t gather family together for holiday events thanksgiving and Christmas because the risks are too hi-- oh, he did it anyway. 

Solomon Islands to ban Facebook for the sake of 'national unity' - aimed at tackling cyberbullying and online defamation. Sounds... sensible?


Co-op news and events

Co-op Digital: We’ve re-platformed the Co-op Legal Services website - how to balance competing priorities.

Free events at Federation House

Paid events:

  • Let's Talk About Race – 2 Dec – 1pm. Join The Co-operative College and increase your confidence in talking about race, as well as gaining an enhanced awareness of how to reduce bias in your behaviour and how to manage a racially diverse team with greater empathy, understanding and skill. This three-hour online workshop explores historical and contemporary issues surrounding race in our society and examines what we can all do to encourage and improve conversations around race. Sign up here. 
  • Flourish Festive Quiz - Meet Up – 7 Dec – 7pm 

Thank you for reading

Thank you friends, readers and contributors. Please continue to send ideas, questions, corrections, improvements, etc to @rod on Twitter. If you have enjoyed reading, please tell a friend! If you want to find out more about Co-op Digital, follow us @CoopDigital on Twitter and read the Co-op Digital Blog. Previous newsletters.

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