With more than 4.5 million active members, The Co-op is the UK’s largest consumer co-op. Based in Manchester, it offers a diverse range of services, including food, electricals, legal services, funeral care and general insurance through more than 4,000 locations across the UK. Its status as a co-op means that its large membership plays an active role in its governance, contributing to its business strategy and social goals as well as sharing in the rewards of a recently launched new membership scheme.
The Challenge – Opening the floor
Following a move to ”one member, one vote,” governance arrangements, more than two million members were subsequently eligible to vote at the Co-op’s 2015 AGM. Additionally, the Co-op’s complex voting system – which takes into account different societies, representatives and voting strengths– requires a sophisticated digital voting solution.
The Solution – Giving a voice to members
Looking for a solution that could handle the substantial increase in participation and provide voters with an efficient and intuitive way to submit their input, The Co-op turned to Lumi. The two organisations had already been working together for many years, with Lumi delivering solutions for many of The Co-op’s key conferences and meetings.
Though Lumi had never worked with them on anything as significant as the AGM under its new governance arrangements, The Co-op had faith in the company based on its history of delivering digital voting solutions for The Co—op and AGMs for numerous other enterprises.Lumi’s solution comprised an on-site registration that provided a quick and fully auditable registration process. In-room voting was handled through Lumi’s IML Connectors, handheld devices that allowed members to vote during the formal meeting.The IML Connectors are activated once the members insert their smartcards, which they received upon arriving at the AGM.
These smartcards enabled the Co-op to operate a complex “on the day” voting system, as they link to key demographic information pertaining to the individual member. As all of this information is located on a remote and secure server, privacy and security were not a concern in the case of lost cards.In the lead up to the event, Lumi was able to quickly and efficiently design its technology and software, including development of new software solutions to accommodate The Co-op’s complex voting procedures to ensure a successful meeting.
The Results – The next step for AGMs
The Co-ops 2015 AGM saw a substantial influx of ‘on the day voting’ members. The event ran smoothly, with Lumi’s on-site registration services and on-site polling services providing instant access to voting data. Pleased with the results, The Co-op asked Lumi to implement a similar solution at its 2016 AGM.
“We provided a similar solution for this year’s  AGM, and The Co-op has plans to develop this solution with us in the future, they love working with us,” says Rob Curtis, global sales manager at Lumi.
“We’ve revolutionised the way they run voting at their AGMs. I was recently told that Caroline Sellers, Co-op’s Assistant Secretary, is submitting a nomination for an award in the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) Governance Awards, and we’re very proud to have played a role in The Co-op’s transformation.
“Lumi has provided The Co-op with a digital registration and voting solution that has been able to flexibly adapt to our complex voting processes.” says Simon Plunkett, Democratic Project Manager for The Co-op. “Lumi’s approach is always ‘can do’ – no matter the scale of the challenge or the timescales. Whether it’s IT development or customer facing registration, Lumi staff are positive, customer focused and ready to go that extra mile to make our AGMs successful.”
The Co-op has now decided to enter a long-term partnership with Lumi. The future looks bright for the two organisations, as Lumi focuses on developing new methods to get more Co-op members to participate in future AGMs, either through the use of on-site keypads or remotely via AGM mobile software.
“The governance team at The Co-op want to absolutely revolutionise their AGMs,” says Curtis. “They really want to take it to the next level by incorporating new technologies and increasing member participation which is core to their co-op purpose and identity, that’s why they’ve extended the partnership.”