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Calgary Co-op CEO talks refreshed membership program

New features aim to give members more ways to earn and save money
calgary co-op members program
(L to R): Ken Keelor, CEO; Penny McTaggart-Cowan, VP, marketing & member experiences; Bart Willmore, VP of human resources; Fadi Nasr, VP information technology; and Mike Mills, centre manager, MacLeod Trail Store.

Calgary Co-op has launched its modernized members program, supported by a new app. 

The organization says the app will “revolutionize the shopping experience” of Calgary Co-op’s 400,000 membership by offering new ways to earn immediate rewards and benefits, receive additional savings, and provide transparency to patronage earnings.  

More broadly, the idea was to simplify the membership program, says Ken Keelor, CEO of Calgary Co-op. 

“Over the years, we’ve had a membership program that is very complex to understand,” he says. “It has 11 different tiers and depending on which tier you get to over the years, you earn cash or shares. But most members don’t understand all these tiers, they don’t know how much cash or shares they’re going to get, and they don’t know when they’re going to receive it.” 

As part of the revamp, the tiers were reduced to just three. And starting early next year, members will see their patronage earnings and the value of their equity balance – which they used to get annually – accumulate with every transaction. 

“Members now won’t have this nebulous program that they don’t understand, or they don’t know how much benefit it’s delivering to them,” says Keelor. “They will see the benefit as they shop on a daily or weekly basis.” 

READ: Calgary Co-op is upping its game

Calgary Co-op also wanted to ensure it was offering “incremental value” to members, says Keelor, so it developed new in-app features. 

One is called bonus cash rewards, which can be redeemed on select items in Calgary Co-op food stores; Wine, Spirits and Beer locations; cannabis locations and Home Health Care stores (with fuel and convenience stores coming soon). There are also new games that give members the chance to win prizes and discounts, as well as personalized offers. Members can also access flyers in the app, add their shopping lists, and see their receipts. 

“What we’re hoping to do is increase members’ engagement with Calgary Co-op,” says Keelor. “There will be future phases on the app, like being able to donate… or redeem bonus cash online as you shop. So, engagement levels are expected to go up.” 

Increasing existing members’ engagement is the first objective, adds Keelor, and the second one is to attract new members. 

“It’s an important priority because we need to attract new and younger members, as people come into our province or our city,” he says, adding that there’s high population growth in Calgary and Alberta. “We want those new members when they come in to choose us because we’re local and for all those good reasons. But we also want them to have a simple path to sign up and start seeing benefits.” 

The new membership program is part of Calgary Co-op’s transformative strategy that aims to future-proof its business. Over the past few years, Keelor says the organization has done a lot of work real estate, people development, multiple lines of business, acquisitions, and more. “We’ve been working on this for a few years – to get to the point where we’re at today,” he says.

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