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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: Goat-2-meeting]

 

Goats on Zoom and waving goodbye

Why we can't stop waving at the end of video calls - we’re over-performing the social cues of conversation closure because we feel that just closing a browser tab is ambiguous or abrupt. This is just one of many ways that video calling is uncomfortable:

"It’s harder to pick up on social cues. You’re looking at your own face. Others are dropping in and out of the call. You’re doing the “Can you hear me? No I think your mic is off” dance. You can’t see if your boss agrees with what you’re saying because the video makes her look like an impressionist painting. All of this makes video calls exhausting. You could say that video calls come with an unexpectedly large “cost of communication”."

If you’d like your calls to be more fun here’s an enterprising Lancashire farm that’ll have a goat participate in your Zoom call. The income has helped them keep staff on and will go toward renewable energy. “The goats are savvy in Microsoft teams, Webex, Blue Jeans, Skype, Google Hangouts, Jitsi, Go To Meeting and pretty much all other video platforms from which you can send a call invite link”, though the newsletter is confident that the goats don’t enjoy Webex. 

#startupidea: if you’d pay £6 to have a goat join your video call for a laugh, what would you pay to have an owl join it so you didn’t need to be in the meeting at all? More, surely! (In Silicon Valley a brief goat-2-meeting costs $100!)

Also: Fujitsu announces permanent work-from-home plan - "unprecedented flexibility" to 80,000 workers in Japan. Work is going remote-friendly if not quite remote-first.

If you miss the office, you can put its soothing tones on in the background: I miss the office.
 

Pubs will track and trace

Pubs are reopening in England. Fancy a pint? You might need an app for that. UKGov suggested that pubs should record personal details of customers to help track and trace efforts if there were any outbreaks. But there are obvious concerns around privacy and public health: you’d guess that record keeping, data accuracy and access to data are all going to be difficult or uncertain in a pub.

On the other hand, pubs seem to be doing a pretty good job running an informal track and trace service!: “Lighthouse had contacted about 100 customers before NHS Test and Trace had been in touch with management”.
 

Primark down 75%: retail winners and losers 

The virus lockdown has had uneven effects on retail. Obviously online has done well. Also “essential” sectors like supermarkets, though there increased sales offline have been counter balanced by increased virus costs (staffing, social distancing measures etc). And of course many businesses have raced to add online shopping: 85,000 businesses launch online shops as B2C and B2B ecommerce surge in lockdown.

Those who’ve struggled are “non-essential” sectors and those that rely on customer proximity: pubs, cafes, offline-only retail etc. Primark sales are down 75% in most recent quarter - this is the lockdown effect because Primark doesn’t sell online.
 

Ghost kitchens

“Ghost kitchens” have been around for a few years - these are restaurants with no seating: a smaller building in a cheaper location prepares the same number of meals, all for delivery. In 2018 Deliveroo was setting up delivery-only kitchens for restaurants:

"A “ghost restaurant” is one that makes food solely for delivery customers - you can’t go to one and get a table. That’s the US term - in the UK they’re called “dark kitchens”. Deliveroo Editions is dark-kitchens-as-a-service: Deliveroo provides them to existing food brands. For larger restaurant operators, dark kitchens can load balance the peak times. For small ones, the kitchens can test demand in a new location without the capital investment in property: “The property requirement is data driven. Deliveroo know exactly where their customers are, the amount they spend, the frequency at which they order and the types of cuisine that are most popular in an area. From the fledgling operator’s perspective, this can lower the risk of venturing into uncharted territories and drive sales up as much as 400%.”

What if this idea was expanded out into high-street-as-a-service? Could you have a high street without a retail shopfront? Or a shopfront with no stock? The internet and logistics have made it possible to separate the point of product discovery from the purchase from the inventory from the delivery/handover. And these points can be recombined in many different ways. IKEA’s warehouse, Argos’s front/back of store, Deliveroo, Amazon’s many forms - all possible variations."

And in the virustimes of 2020, the ghost kitchens are doing well. They now look like "Ghost Kitchen Colonies" (or “commissary” kitchens): one site that hosts the kitchens for many restaurants. 

“This means sharing ingredients, equipment, and cooking staff to supply multiple restaurant brands. For customers, this provides the opportunity to order different types of food from the same address, and saves companies on overheads and wasting resources.” 
 

Uber: grocery delivery

Before the virus Uber was primarily a taxi company: it used cars to move people around. Once lockdowns started, the people weren’t moving, but the cars still could. So its Uber Eats cars-that-move-meals business overtook the cars-that-move-people business. In June it missed out on buying rival meal delivery platform Grubhub (Just Eat made a last minute order which won that one), so this week Uber has just bought US meal delivery service Postmates, and will run it alongside its existing Uber Eats. 

But if you have an on-demand network of cars you can move other things with it too. Uber also says it will be starting grocery delivery in Canada, Latin America and some US cities soon. It bought Cornershop (a grocery delivery startup a bit like Instacart) last year. It’s also a step towards the logistics space. The next step might be combining the car with ghost kitchens: on demand food truck delivery kitchens.

 

Various things

Nicki Sprinz at ustwo: “As a white person with privilege and relative influence, I invite people to hold me to account, and I must stay uncomfortable. We have to do the hard work to ensure we start to dismantle the structural racism we have benefited from for years.”

Climatestrike software licence: “developers can use to prohibit the use of their code by applications or companies that threaten to accelerate climate change through fossil fuel extraction”.

Diversity & Inclusion at Conferences and Events (DICE) provides certification and guidance to help conferences and events deliver a representative and diverse set of speakers, perspectives, and attendees.”

Goldman Sachs bank designs its own typeface. It has to work with lots of small numbers, so it might be good for spreadsheet fans (hello).

“Find yourself an alternative pint while also supporting local independent pubs and bars” - Neverspoons.

 

Co-op Digital news and events

The government’s consultation response on violence and abuse toward shop staff and The Co-op’s report on it in Sep 2019: “Our latest research shows that retail crime has reached epidemic proportions, with 115 retail workers physically attacked every day in the UK, with many more verbally abused and threatened. This needs to change. We need the UK Government to urgently protect shop workers and send a clear message that violence and verbal aggression will not be tolerated in shops.”

The Federation House team is running weekly drop-in chats for the community every Wednesday at 10am: Join us here. See our online events. You can also see how The Federation is planning for a safe return to the co-working floor.  

Free of charge events: 

Paid for events: 

  • Invisible Cities - Online Tours of Manchester or Edinburgh – Various Dates & Times 
     

Thank you for reading

Thank you, beloved 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.

Copyright © 2020 Co-op Digital, All rights reserved.


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