Schoenen Torfs, a Flemish retail company, has over 70 stores spread all over Belgium. Over the past few years, the company invested heavily in e-commerce and digitalisation. That’s when they noticed that their architecture was outdated and needed an upgrade. Together with The Value Hub, they started a journey to set up a future-proof integration platform. During their collaboration, it became clear that it’s not a coincidence that both companies are recognised as Best Places To Work.
Founded in 1948, Schoenen Torfs is a Flemish family business at its core. After more than 70 years in the retail business, it is still a company that cares about the people it is involved with: its employees, stakeholders, vendors, and – last but not least – its customers. Today, the company has over 70 stores all over Flanders, with shops in Wallonia as well. Their webshop is open 24/7 for Belgian and Dutch customers. Together, the Schoenen Torfs family strives to provide the best possible service and quality for everyone involved.
Catching up with e-commerce
In 2020, Schoenen Torfs decided that it was time to invest in a modern data architecture that suits their current needs. Over the past few years, the company invested heavily in e-commerce and digitalisation. That’s when they noticed that their architecture was outdated and needed an upgrade. They went looking for a partner who could set up a new and improved integration platform for them and help their business to grow with the platform.
In it for the long run
Schoenen Torfs wanted to partner up with a company that was familiar with its context, culture, and market. “Whenever we think about working together with someone new, we first want to make sure that they are on the same page. We get together and talk about our plans, vision, and goals because we don’t want to collaborate with someone if it’s not for the long run.” Elke Laeremans, COO/CIO at Schoenen Torfs, explains. When she first got together with The Value Hub, she immediately felt that the vibe was right. Soon it was crystal clear that The Value Hub was the right fit to help them implement the new platform and lead the way.
“There was an instant connection between The Value Hub and Schoenen Torfs. Our companies are on the same level when it comes to habits, customs, and values, which is important to us.”Elke Laeremans, COO/CIO at Schoenen Torfs
Roadmap to success
From the beginning, the collaboration between The Value Hub and Schoenen Torfs was very professional but familiar at the same time. They started their journey by creating a roadmap together to visualize what they wanted to accomplish in the next few weeks, months, and even years. They discussed what features the platform needed and how they could turn it into a successful product. Thanks to The Value Hub, Schoenen Torfs learned to look at the integration platform – which seems very technical at first sight – as something concrete with commercial value.
On the same team
Equally important to the roadmap is the team. The Value Hub and Schoenen Torfs put together a team that consists of people with different backgrounds and profiles from both companies, combining their knowledge and experience. By working with hybrid teams, developers from both companies work together and learn from each other at the same time. While Schoenen Torfs brings a retail perspective to the table, The Value Hub brings in technical as well as methodological expertise.
“With The Value Hub, it feels like we are literally and figuratively on the same team.”Elke Laeremans, COO/CIO at Schoenen Torfs
At first, there was some hesitancy at Schoenen Torfs about everything that was about to change. “Are we sure that we are making the right decisions?”, “Do we really need to change this and that?” During the process, the Value Hub makes sure that everyone is on the same page before introducing something new. By working together, the trust grows, and everyone gets on board.
“The Value Hub guides us through the process and shows us the way. We always take the next step knowing that it is the right one and it will add value.”Bruno De Hondt, IT Change Manager at Schoenen Torfs
Teach a man to fish …
During their collaboration, The Value Hub introduces new methods and techniques that are very accessible and easy to apply. “It is important for us to work with someone who can teach us something that we can make our own later on”, says Bruno De Hondt, IT Change Manager at Schoenen Torfs. By sharing their knowledge and learning together, both Schoenen Torfs and The Value Hub are growing stronger.
“Because of the professionalism of The Value Hub, we grow and become professionals ourselves, which is an incredible advantage. They make us feel at ease and eager to learn more.”Bruno De Hondt, IT Change Manager at Schoenen Torfs
Great places to work
Schoenen Torfs is a context-sensitive company. “You have to truly understand our specific culture and context before you can function in it”, Elke explains. “One of the best things about our collaboration with The Value Hub is the fact that their company is so much like ours. We have similar backgrounds, share the same values … Our culture is very much alike.” Last year, their similarities came to show in the most striking way when Great Place To Work published its list of best workplaces. “Our whole team was rooting for The Value Hub to get this recognition”, Bruno laughs. “When we heard that The Value Hub had won, we were almost as excited as when Schoenen Torfs won.”
Openness and transparency
Another way in which their like-mindedness is visible is the way in which both companies communicate. The Value Hub and Schoenen Torfs value honesty and transparency above all. From the get-go, The Value Hub was completely honest and transparent about what they would be able to accomplish for Schoenen Torfs and what the timeframe would be. Each month The Value Hub and Schoenen Torfs come together to put everything on the table to avoid any miscommunications. Because of the openness and authenticity, it is easy to trust each other and work together.
“We hardly encounter other companies which are that much on the same level about open communication and transparency as we are. This is quite unique.”Elke Laeremans, COO/CIO at Schoenen Torfs
Loyalty for the whole family
Since they started working together, Schoenen Torfs and The Value Hub already accomplished a lot. Firstly, the Ravot Club. This is a loyalty program designed specifically for children. Members of Ravot Club enjoy advantages such as discounts, invitations to events and activities, and presents. Furthermore, they get access to a special foot measuring device for children. Secondly, the Gezinsbond loyalty program. Gezinsbond is a Belgian organization that defends the interests of families. Members of Gezinsbond who shop at Schoenen Torfs now get a 5 % discount. By providing these services, Schoenen Torfs is positioning itself as a retailer for the whole family. Together the hybrid team created both the front- and the back-end of these loyalty programs.
Magic in the air
Schoenen Torfs and The Value Hub are looking forward to the future. “We are certain that we want to continue this journey together. At the end of the day, we all have the same goal: to turn this integration platform into a success story we can all be proud of”, Bruno concludes. The hybrid team will continue to work together in synergy, excited about what’s next. Because when great places to work come together, something magical happens.
“We expected a lot from this partnership, and The Value Hub truly delivered. Even more so, they exceeded our expectations. They are the full package.”Elke Laeremans, COO/CIO at Schoenen Torfs
Customised future-proof solutions
At The Value Hub, we have the knowledge and expertise to take your company to the next level. By joining forces, we can develop a customised platform that is easily accessible and future-proof. Are you curious to find out more about our added value? Contact us so we can get together and create our own hybrid team.