Waitrose Customer Story

When innovation is part of an organisations DNA…

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Waitrose is one of the UK’s leading supermarket brands and Britain’s largest employee-owned retailer. It’s also an organisation with a highly developed culture of innovation; suggesting new ideas to improve the business is part of its DNA. Fundamental to this is giving a voice and a platform to all 53,000 partners (employees). Here’s how they moved to an even more effective model to achieve this – and how the unique Wazoku approach helped them.


Active partners collaborating on the platform


Ideas received from employees across the entire business


Saved per year in till roll costs from one idea to reduce receipts by 12cm


Realised savings for Waitrose through the Partner Ideas Scheme

Waitrose logo

“Small ideas are here to stay, and generally impact and mean so much more to Partners, than the next big strategic change. Therefore, using a system that allows any Partner, working anywhere in our business, whether driving a van, restocking shelves or managing the marketing POS, to submit an idea is very important. The Wazoku idea management platform gives exactly that.”

Stuart Eames
Stuart Eames
Retail Innovation Lead, Waitrose

The background: the need for change

Waitrose staff
Waitrose has three key drivers for any innovation. It must:

  • Make it easier for the customer.
  • Make it better for the Partner.
  • Make it more cost-effective for the Partnership.

Collecting ideas for innovation has been going on at Waitrose for over 15 years. Although the previous method, the Waitrose Good Suggestion Scheme, was a great way to submit ideas, it had so many friction points and it was so unengaging that it rarely saw any ideas delivered.

When evaluating the performance and friction points of the previous scheme, Waitrose noticed that:

  • It was admin heavy.
  • There was no process in place to move an idea through from evaluation to implementation.
  • Heavy volumes made it hard to control and manage.
  • It gave no visibility or transparency to the Partner that submitted the idea as to what was happening.
  • There was a big issue with processing and highlighting duplicate ideas.

Waitrose needed to understand how technology could unlock solutions to these problems, how to embed idea management and innovation into ‘business as usual’ and how to drive engagement into the scheme, to give Partners a positive experience.

The solution: entirely revamping the Waitrose innovation scheme

Waitrose supermarket

The new scheme is called ‘Partner Ideas’. Powered by a single idea management platform from Wazoku, it engages Partners and encourages new ideas, anytime, anywhere. The Partner Ideas platform ensures Waitrose is constantly tasking itself to change and innovate and put its greatest asset (its people) at the heart of this process.

Waitrose mission statement:

“Partner Ideas is an innovation platform, enabling our co-owners to suggest ways we can improve our business by having conversations directly with process owners across the Partnership, working together to support our business success.”


Waitrose Partner Ideas: Giving a voice to our People

Outcomes & ROI

With one platform came many benefits. The capabilities of our idea management platform were ideal for helping Waitrose to address key challenges from the previous ideas scheme:

  • Reduced idea duplication – The platform creates a database of ideas that is easily searchable.
  • Positive end-user experience – All Partners have their own profile where information such as ideas submission, comments, votes, tasks and notifications are all managed and tracked on the platform.
  • Reviewing ideas – The system allows you to set up workflows, which automatically move the idea through stages (New, Review, Develop, Evaluate or Implemented).
  • Administration – Communication, notifications, engagement and activity is all managed and stored on the platform.
  • Simple Idea Submission – The idea submission form is simple, populates key details and allows Partners to add text, pictures or documentation.

Delivering increased ROI

Waitrose store external
The success of the Waitrose Partner Ideas scheme is down to ongoing commitment and communication across the entire business and, most importantly, within the senior leadership. Of course, idea development isn’t free, and therefore unlocking the capital needed to implement ideas was critical to success of the scheme.

To achieve this, Waitrose mapped the business benefits (such as cost or time savings) of the ideas that were implemented to the budgets of directors that sponsored the idea. This approach diverted what was historically a small amount of capital from the annual budget to deliver a much higher return on investment.

The Waitrose Partner Ideas scheme has and continues to deliver clear value to the business year-on-year, resulting in a dynamic business that empowers Partners to have a voice and role in the whole innovation process.

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