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Optimizing Internal Communication in Retail

Written by Marnik Willems

The importance of internal communication

When something goes bad in business, poor communication is often the one to blame. Inadequate wording, addressing it to the wrong recipient, using an incorrect channel, can only lead to deteriorating situations. Internal communication is crucial for businesses, as it makes sure that information flows smoothly between the different actors, departments, and levels within an organization. This is particularly important in the retail industry in which points of sales are often scattered through a wide geographical area with little connections between them. All the information flows from one centre of operation towards the shops, as well as within the shops.

Ensuring smooth and efficient communication

Every flow of information is defined by two aspects. First, the scope: whether the information is destined to someone in particular (or a group) or to everyone in general. Second, the validity period: whether the information is there to stay or is only valid for a limited amount of time. The shorter the term of validity is, the more instant the communication should be. As the term becomes longer, the organisations need to make sure that the quality and availability of the information stays unhampered.

There are many tools that can be used to make sure the communication flows within your structure. Depending on the nature of the communication, different tools should be considered to make sure your communication is efficient. This starts by knowing your recipient. The sender should always think about who it is that should read the message and act upon it. In an organization, the recipient can either be individuals or groups that are targeted. A good practice when communicating within an organisation is to start from the premise that all information should be accessible and easily available to all. Another one is to only implement controls to limit the access when necessary. This means choosing the right channel. When the information is destined to a single (or few) recipients, the information should be well targeted through tools such as emails, chats, or phones. On the contrary, if it is destined to a wider group, it should be put somewhere where it is available to all such as an intranet or a drive. In that case, some process should be put into place to validate the information as time passes by, to make sure it stays up to date. It would also be useful to include a feedback loop which allows the sender to know that the information has gone through.

Efficient internal communication in retail

When looking at the retail industry, it appears that to make communication more efficient, it is important to determine with clarity what information flows through which channel and at what time. In general, four main tools can be identified and organized according to the double axis framework. The phone is best used when the scope is limited to very specific persons and when the message is only valid for a short period of time and is important – otherwise use emails. On the other side of the spectrum is the use of an intranet for when the scope is very large and the validity of the message long, making it interesting to store it in a well-defined place. Communities or business networks are mainly used for messages that have a wide scope but for which the validity is limited in time, making it interesting to use group chats. Lastly, email can be used in most cases but doing so could lead to a disorganized communication. Therefore, the other tools should be used first.

As in most industries, the retail is very dependent on a clear internal communication to run smoothly. By organizing its communication around two axes, it allows organization to see with more clarity what is expected from each message, and to determine what channel is most appropriate to transmit it. For communication to be successful, the recipient must be well identified as well as the type of message that is sent and bringing some regularity in this complex process can help to manage it better.

Are you interested in optimizing internal communication within your company? Do not hesitate to reach out!


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