Ocado retail switch to local for reward and recognition

Kelly Swinney is Head of Customer Hub at Ocado Retail and told us more about how they use the Sunderland Gift Card.

Ocado Retail Hub switched from Amazon vouchers to he Sunderland Gift Card in a range of reward and recognition initiatives for its 200 strong team, including on its employee platform Mint. Kelly Swinney is Head of Customer Hub at Ocado Retail and told us how and why they made the switch.

What rewards/incentives does Ocado Retail offer?

“Over a year ago, we introduced a new platform for employees called Mint which applies gamification to reward and recognition. Working similar to games like Candy Crush, employees can earn virtual currency called ‘Ocadough’ which they can either save or spend in the Mint shop which opens three times a year. In the past, we used to use Amazon vouchers to reward staff but with the new Mint platform we made the decision to change the approach, knowing that Amazon vouchers wouldn’t deliver what we wanted to achieve.”

Why did you choose Town & City Gift Cards?

“I’m also part of the Sunderland business networking community, and Town & City Gift Cards were mentioned at one of the meetings. It was a lightbulb moment when we thought ‘why are we using Amazon vouchers when we could be putting money back into the city’. Starting to use our local Town & City Gift Card, the Sunderland Gift Card, was a no-brainer for us but first we had to understand from colleagues if it was something they wanted. We hosted workshops where we showed staff the businesses that were part of the Sunderland Gift Card, and they were happy with the choice on offer through the card. There were lots of big brands that they recognised, but equally there were lots of independent stores and businesses that were new to them. Ocado Retail is 50% owned by M&S, and as the M&S Sunderland store is part of the Sunderland Gift Card, it also gave employees the chance to spend their card there, if they chose to. When it comes to reward and recognition, we are guided by the voice of our people.

“With 60% of our team living in the city, the Sunderland Gift Card first and foremost offers choice for our team and flexibility but is equally about giving back to our community. With the challenges that businesses have faced over recent years, it’s super important that we’re supporting our city and its businesses, from the big brands to the smaller businesses.”

How did you use Town & City Gift Cards?

“Our reward and recognition platform, Mint, operates like a normal online shop. We used the Sunderland Gift Card to buy physical gifts that employees could purchase on Mint with their Ocadough, and they could also buy the actual Sunderland Gift Card itself via Mint. The top selling item in the Mint store was the Sunderland Gift Card, and a popular way to use the card was employees going to Greggs to buy their lunch! But employees could also choose to save up their gift card for Christmas and I know many team members used their Sunderland Gift Cards at places like JD Sports to buy presents or at Primark to buy their Christmas pyjamas.” 

How else have you used Town & City Gift Cards?

“Another initiative we have to reward and recognise our teams at Ocado Retail is where staff receive a mug containing treats and a £10 Sunderland Gift Card. If a staff member spots an employee who is displaying our values, they’ll pop the mug on their desk so the staff member can use their Sunderland Gift Card to get a coffee in Starbucks.

“As an online grocery retailer, Christmas is obviously our busiest time so we celebrate Christmas in January, allocating a small budget per person. Team managers were given a Sunderland Gift Card and a choice of 4 restaurants so their team could enjoy a meal together. It was really well received with 97% satisfaction for the initiative from the team.”

What was your experience of using Town & City Gift Cards?

“It’s an easy process to order the Sunderland Gift Cards we need from Miconex. We let them know how many cards we need and they arrive, ready to be handed out to staff.”

What feedback have you received?

“Our reward and recognition strategy is closely aligned to employee feedback with a review every 6 months. The feedback we’ve had from staff to the Sunderland Gift Card has been really positive. Colleagues are happy and prefer the Sunderland Gift Card to the Amazon vouchers we used in the past. Post pandemic, and I think staff really enjoy the experiential aspect of the card; they can go shopping on a Thursday night, go for a meal as a team or use it in any other way they choose, and that feels more meaningful and more personal.

“It’s the small things that have the biggest impact and for us the Sunderland Gift Card offers choice and flexibility for staff, with support for local as part of our community ethos. The Sunderland Gift Card is working for us and for our team and we’re not looking to make any changes.”

Make the switch to local today. 

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