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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