19 August 2021
Smart ideas for every day excellence
Makro’s plans to become an online shopping powerhouse
Massmart’s new head of ecommerce, Sylvester John, has divulged the company’s plans to develop a market-leading online shopping experience in South Africa.

John previously served as vice president for last-mile delivery in North America at Massmart’s majority shareholder, Walmart. He played a key role in launching and positioning Walmart’s online grocery pickup service in the US and drove the establishment of the company’s last-mile delivery organisation. This now delivers from over 3,000 stores to more than 500 US domestic markets, covering 65% of the country’s population. This included leading Walmart’s Express Delivery, SNAP, Smart Substitutions, and Instacart Marketplace initiatives.

John will now leverage this experience to help Massmart establish market-leading ecommerce and omnichannel capability for its Makro, Game, and Builders stores. “I am intricately familiar with the playbook and, in fact, helped write parts of it,” John told MyBroadband. John said that Massmart was well-positioned to be a more effective ecommerce player, thanks to the brands that it owned, its wide range of products, and its brick and mortar store base.

“It’s notable that our sophisticated national distribution centre network and warehouse store base — particularly Makro and Builders — offer fantastic geographic coverage for rapid online order fulfilment,” he stated. “It’s clear that we have the brand portfolio, geographical presence, merchandise assortment, procurement scale and primary logistics capability to be a successful ecommerce player,” He stated the 60% ecommerce growth experienced at Massmart in 2020 and the strategic plans underway were encouraging. “Our immediate opportunity now is to even better leverage these assets by further improving our digital sales platforms and last-mile delivery capability,” John said.

John stated there were four key areas of focus for Massmart’s ecommerce strategy in the next few years, namely:

  1. Revamping the and online user interfaces, including key functionalities like search, to provide a much more seamless and intuitive customer experience.
  2. Developing transactional and value-adding mobile-first digital solutions that cater to different customer occasions, journeys and segments.
  3. Increasing Massmart’s competitiveness in the on-demand and same-day customer proposition.
  4. Deploying a wider range and strengthening fulfilment capabilities, including new integrated and proven Walmart store technology, improving the click-and-collect experience in stores, and launching “ship to home” capability from distribution centres to complement its store fulfilment capacity.


One major change that has already been implemented was to create a centralised group ecommerce structure. This structure has specialist functional teams responsible for providing expert input into each part of its customers’ online experiences. “Amongst other things, this also enables us to more efficiently leverage and deploy Walmart experience across the group by offering single functional points of ecommerce engagement,” John said.

“This approach has already improved our ways of working and the speed at which we can deploy new integrated ecommerce solutions.” John said while Massmart was actively working on improving its same-day delivery offering, it was important to highlight that it already offered same-day delivery. “Around 7% of Makro orders are delivered same day, and about 41% are delivered within one day,” John stated.


Article first published 19 August 2021 on MyBroadband