The Park Slope Coop

The Park Slope Coop is one of the very few of its kind as well as largest member run coops in the country having more than 17,000 members, most of whom work 3 hours every four weeks in exchange for a 20–40% savings on groceries. As a member of the Coop you share ownership with 17,000+ fellow Coop members. You have a voice in the decision-making process and can participate in planning and discussions of the organization’s future.

My Coop Experience…

In the beginning of 2017, I became a member. I found it to be an exciting food extravaganza with fresh, colorful produce, rows of unique, local goodies and a thriving community of likeminded individuals.

As a new member, I missed my first day of work. My partner, who had been a member for a couple years didn’t even know how to swap a shift. I no call no show, not an ideal way to start a membership somewhere but it was snowing and the commute was rough 1 hour with a train transfer involving walking on the street for a half mile. (Now I live closer!) The next time I tried to shop, I found I had a make up day, then more started piling up until I was suspended. While talking to other members, we discovered we weren’t alone in our confusion. If it’s a problem for enough people it could be a UX opportunity.

In some ways the coop was a little behind the times, not completely embracing the digital age. Upon sign up there are binders you have to fill in, they give you a paper packet of dates to work for the foreseeable future and send you on your way. Switching shifts is done on their website in a process that takes many clicks as well as involves waiting for a phone response from other members to swap a shift with you. Most of the time you never hear back from email or phone/text from the people you send them to.

Screen shots of shift swap

At a coop general meeting we shared out our idea to create an app in order to collect email addresses to send surveys in order to gain insights.

Our photos made it into the The Linewaiters’ Gazette!!

Link to the survey:

There were a few speculative people that told us to talk to IT in order to get the job done.

We emailed IT and they were not interested in the idea of an app and were content with just a website even though we were willing to create it for free.

Takeaways from Questionnaire

60% call out when they can’t work; under 40% switch shifts through the web site which leaves staffing unpredictable with some shifts being overloaded and some short on staff.


  1. Users are over 60% of people are 25–45 years old
  2. A third have been members for over 10 years
  3. People who filled the survey out closely reflect the ratio of committee/squad workers; 35% in receiving, 17% shopping, 17% food processing
  4. Overcrowding complaints in the survey reflect the 35% majority percentage of workers in receiving, crowding the aisles, stocking shelves, wandering around.

Pleasures and Pains

  1. Favorite things: produce, trust and community
  2. Pain points: Crowding and work shift bureaucracy, specifically shift swapping frustrations.


  1. 75% have an iPhone and use a calendar on their phone to keep track of and remind themselves of their shifts; overwhelming majority use Google Calendar

Calling out

  1. 60% call out when they can’t work; under 40% switch shifts through the web site which leaves staffing unpredictable with some shifts being overloaded and some short on staff.


  1. About half call the office and 40% use the web site or email

How can tech be used to innovate the coop experience

  1. An obvious majority want an app- shift schedules and swapping
  2. Want transparency: access to the same system the office has; to find out how many makeup shifts?, when do I work next?, what’s in stock?
  3. Less paper
  4. Email people on staff
  5. Preference of coop updates and notifications; app, email or text

Next steps:

  1. Contact office staff/call center to assess their pain points regarding redundancy with member calls
  2. Leaders pain points with paper trail

Collecting emails for survey

Members provided us with their emails in order to participate in our online survey.

Getting emails from Members for the online questionnaire

Meeting with Allon, JS React Developer

Allon expressed interest in helping us develop an app primary for shift swapping as it’s MVP. He has years of backend and front end experience and is looking for pet project to add to his newly learned skillset coding in JS React. Beyond his coding expertise, he has equally impressive skills working within an agile environment and he articulated that process that allows to ability to collaborate through the storyboarding using Trillo. His insights and willingness to apply his experience to this project promise to be invaluable proving that when you reach out to the tech community at least at the PSFC people are responsive and eager to help.

In depth in person interviews conducted with member/workers

Left image: Interviewing a member at their work post near office. Right image: Interviewing a member at their house

Affinity Mapping

We started out writing quotes on post it notes taken from user interviews. Each person with a designated color. We took the post its down and we took turns putting the post its on the wall letting groupings form organically. When we finished grouping them we broke the larger groups up into smaller groups.

We named the groups we formed:

  1. Shift/Squad(related to working]
  2. Introduction & Time
  3. Shopping Process
  4. Shopping Frequency
  5. Store Crowding
  6. Community(
  7. Produce Quality(The food)
  8. Office (all things that are done in the office)
  9. Bureaucracy/ Democracy
  10. Competition (Stores that compete with Coop)

Problem Statement:

Workers need a more flexible way to arrange their coop schedule.

Shoppers need a more comfortable shopping experience, ie: less crowded aisles.

Who is the user?

Solving for the:

The ‘Shopper’ — wants lists, help for elderly, community and online shopping opportunities

The ‘Worker’ — Streamline the working process so it’s not a burden

Potentially ‘Full time staff’ — Limit phone calls to the office for questions and concerns (interview an office worker)

As the app becomes more utilized by working members, the full time staff will be better able to estimate when staff shortages will occur and can thus send push notifications to all member/workers through the app. Alerting all members who have allowed notifications for that purpose.


Solving for the Problems:

Feature Analysis of Competing Market Shift Swapping Apps:

We found shift swapping apps such as The Branch, Shyft, Volunteer Schedular Pro, Nurse Grid and compared them to the current shift swapping website the coop has. They offered great solutions for each type of user for each specific case. However, there is nothing that exists specifically for a large member run coop.

Findings from analysis:


Shyft app is intended for a small team, having no broad filters; each posted shift for availability contains an illustration and large rectangular box in a scrolling format, which would be exhausting and endless for a coop user-member. Specific likes: warm, inviting, fun character/humor-interactions. Personalized by fun messaging prompts and incentivization thru tip-potential. Under settings, allows the ability to control shift and schedule notifications.

Profile page is extremely limited, including only name and location. Calendar: lacks ability to auto-populate “every four week” squad-style shifts; no affordance to sync with iPhone or Google calendar. Landing page is ineffective for a large group


Has the potential to serve hundreds of nurses across various hospitals. Has extensive profile page, profile pic access and account settings, to set notifications — allowing profile to be public or private, — including history of jobs worked, places, credentials. Separate calendar settings for sharing, and adding to default iPhone/Google calendar.

Landing page IS the calendar, directly above which are 3 nav options — “My Events (my schedule)”; “Swaps”; “Open Shifts”

Upper-left hamburger is non-calendar list view of “events/job schedule”

“Open shift” “Swap details” features left /right profile pics of users, with arrows indicating swap, with green banner “Swap accepted” — specifically addresses over saturation of various means of contact to swap/cover shifts

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