Reinventing communication in a rapidly changing retail landscape
As the first wholesaler in the Netherlands, Makro is an organization that has shown tremendous growth and evolution in the retail space over the years. Through a half-century of change, Makro has grown to become a massive, international brand of warehouse clubs that takes pride in serving its loyal customer base of small business entrepreneurs.
Recognizing that there was an opportunity to better anticipate the needs of these entrepreneurs, Makro's Director of Communications teamed up with digital transformation consultant, Nextnovate, to undertake a major cultural change across the company.
Nextnovate facilitated a top-to-bottom change in company culture by reinventing Makro’s communication channels. The cornerstone of this transformation was the implementation of Workplace, which now connects every employee in the organization to one central communication hub. This has transformed the way employees work — enabling collaboration and shared decision-making, and even creating a more egalitarian and synergetic company culture. Before Workplace, most communication came top-down from the leadership. Now, employees are empowered to collaborate directly with colleagues in a way that creates a sense of fellowship and pride in the company while meeting the shifting needs of clients in real time. The overhaul has been so successful that the CEO of Makro has made the use of Workplace a requirement for contracted employees — replacing all previous channels of communication in the company.
“Workplace is a fantastic tool. I wish our organization knew that it existed sooner. It’s certainly the easiest way to reach all our employees in one central platform. It’s our aim to have 100% of our workforce using Workplace in the near-future.”
Connecting supply to demand through one comprehensive solution
The basic communication challenge at Makro was this: Merel Van Fessem, a single Director of Communications needed to reach 3500 employees in 17 stores throughout the Netherlands, with less than 500 of those employees at the head office and the vast majority unplugged—working directly with customers “on the floor.” As a result, the director often relied on store managers to disseminate hourly Powerpoint presentations or paper memos, which was laborious and inefficient. Merel understood that in order to keep up with an ever-changing retail landscape, she would have to break new ground and find an inventive method to connect the leadership more directly to the needs of customers, one that could leverage the wisdom of employees on the floor who understood those needs in real time. Nextnovate helped Merel implement a social platform on which she could reach every employee directly, at low cost. Just as social media allows people all over the world to connect effortlessly in real time, opening possibilities for collaboration and fulfillment, Workplace networked connected every team member in a way that was easy and engaging, while also providing the tools to create stronger alliances between employees and with the company itself.
Giving the company’s greatest ambassador — their CEO — the perfect tool to revitalize company culture
Makro’s CEO, Paulo Peereboom, embraced the platform wholeheartedly, working its use into his weekly ambassadorial trips to various stores as well as his yearly yuletide Kerst tour. During these trips, the CEO speaks directly with store employees and customers, tagging employees and highlighting the efforts of a weekly #Makrohero on the company Workplace platform in the moment. The CEO also invites the Makro community into leadership activities, sharing posts during his meetings with the board, updating the team in real time. He continually engages with the entire 3,500-strong Makro team, reacting to employee posts and even sharing his obsession with football to keep engagement high. Paulo’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his utilization of the platform in the best possible way — as a tool to shape a living company culture — is a breath of fresh air for Makro. His dedication to building community has trickled down. Other leadership personnel are now active on the platform, creating spaces of their own in which to connect with employees and generate excitement about store events, ultimately translating their commitment into customer engagement.
Supporting entrepreneurship by embracing innovation at every level
Nextnovate helped Makro conceptualize the communication channels in “categories,” with managers of various departments at the head office serving as moderators for their group. This concept has allowed for more peer-to-peer communication within categories, enabling colleagues to communicate on multiple levels, not just top-down. In fact, creating the right channels has tightened quality assurance, making information access more granular and involving more colleagues in both supply-chain and regulatory-compliance actions. This has not only empowered floor personnel to level up their customer service by sharing and solving challenges as they occur, but has also created a more informed and responsive decision-making structure for key stakeholders. Store managers maintain closed groups with their management teams, further facilitating up-to-the-moment innovation. Finally, each store now has a news group as well as a social employee group, serving the functional business needs of the company while inviting engagement and bonding — the human elements that ultimately keep employees coming back to the platform… and Makro.