eRecruitment 2018 | A success story with Successfactors: How Delhaize saves money and time by looking at recruitment data

Written by: Endouble Endouble

Actionable data insights allowed Delhaize, the Belgian supermarket chain, to overhaul their recruitment process and make up for a massive shortage in their qualified workforce. They reduced employee turnover, ensured timely employment, and significantly reduced recruitment costs. Julie van der Heyden, Delhaize’s Employer Branding and Engagement Manager, explained during Emerce eRecruitment 2018 how they did it.

When there was a massive shortage and high turnover of qualified butchers at Delhaize, all eyes were on the HR department. The business’ results depended on a qualified workforce who would stay in employment long enough.

HR were very well aware of the problem, and have been working hard to fill those vacancies. The recruiters went through hundreds of applications daily, only to hire 1 person in the end, who would then quit within a couple of months. They were in a classic catch-22, which consumed a lot of time and money.

Julie van der Heyden, Delhaize’s Employer Branding and Engagement Manager, envisioned another, more efficient way for her team to work. One which would allow HR to clearly prove their contribution to the business by ensuring a qualified workforce in a timely and cost-effective way.

So she got to work. Julie explained her approach during Emerce Recruitment 2018 in Amsterdam on the 5th of April.

Julie and her team recognised early on in the process that if they wanted to improve their framework, first they needed to understand it. And that’s where the challenge started:

  1. They had a careers website, where they even measured certain visitor actions. However, the measurements didn’t provide them with a good picture of where people came from nor what they did on the website. Especially since Delhaize was only able to measure up to and including the intention to apply (clicking the button on the website). As Julie put it in her presentation:


“We were spending money on campaigns but didn’t have a clue of their effect.”


2. The careers website wasn’t optimized for mobile devices. They assumed that that was costing them a lot of applicants, as their target audience was suspected to frequently use their phones to apply to vacancies. As it turned out later, they were right.

3. There was a black box for Successfactors, the ATS (Applicant Tracking System), was swallowing the applicants. It

  • Didn’t measure any user activity.
  • Didn’t integrate with any other systems.
  • Required the user to create an account, which is one of the top reasons why people drop off in the recruitment process.
  • Once the user logged in to the Successfactors environment, Delhaize’s hands were tied. The platform was rigid, and didn’t allow for showing additional content or adjustment of the design on the interface. This made it impossible for Delhaize to show their EVP (Employer Value Proposition) to manage expectations or apply any company branding.
  • Was there to stay by management decision.


Not such a great hand to start playing with. However, Julie proved that there is a way win the game with it.

Without migrating their data to another ATS, Delhaize (with a little help from us ;-) ) managed to implement a data-driven talent acquisition and development approach.

This is how they did it.

They got to know their website visitors and applicants.

They created a measurable career website and linked it to the ATS.

Data collected from the website has been merged with data from Successfactors. This allows them to identify well-performing audiences and target them more specifically in their communication.

They increased the number of applications by making the application process more user-friendly.

A major improvement was the elimination of the mandatory account required by Successfactors, a huge conversion killer.


They implemented a very smart work-around to bypass account creation from the user’s perspective. We think it’s fascinating. (Can’t deny it, we played a big role in the implementation.)

The application process on their website starts with an email address field now. When the applicant fills in their email address, the website checks in the background whether the email address already exists in the ATS.

  • If the email address already exists in Successfactors, it means that the user applied to a position earlier, and provided their contact information.
    Then the rest of the contact details linked to this email address (name, address, phone number, etc.) will be pulled in from the ATS database and automatically filled in on the form. Talk about seamless user experience!


  • If the email address is not known yet, it means that the user hasn’t applied to a position at Delhaize before. Their contact details are therefore not yet known in the ATS, and an account needs to be created (as required by Successfactors).

This is where the magic happens.

  1. The applicant fills in their contact details on the website via an embedded form.
  2. The contact details are sent to the ATS in the background (which is possible because of the ATS integration with the careers website).
  3. The provided contact details are then used to automatically create an account in Successfactors in the background. Without the user noticing anything.


Voilá! You have an uninterrupted user experience on one side (no need to create an account in Successfactors), and have successfully captured data on the other.


They attracted more website visitors by optimizing their website for search engines.

There are different aspects that one considers when optimising a website for Google (the most commonly-used search engine). Out of the several technical and content-related aspects, there are 2 important factors that you need to consider.

  1. Optimizing the content for search engines
  2. Mobile-friendliness of the website

1. Optimizing the content

There are different ways that a user can arrive on a website, such as:

  • Via another website (referral traffic)
  • From paid advertisement (paid traffic)
  • After typing a search keyword in Google (organic traffic)

The benefit of organic traffic compared to referral and paid traffic is that it doesn’t depend on another website’s link and it’s free.

Delhaize recognised the opportunity there and eventually increased their organic traffic from 25% to 37%. This makes up 31% of their total visitors. They don’t have to pay for them and neither are they dependent on another website. People just find their vacancies. What a luxury!

2. Making the website mobile-friendly

Since mobile is increasingly used in web searches, Google has accordingly adjusted its algorithm. When performing a search from a mobile device, websites that have a mobile-friendly version will be ranked higher.

Mobile searches and applications are gaining more relevance in recruitment as well.
Since Delhaize’s new careers website is mobile optimized, now 20% of all applications are submitted via a mobile device.

They cut down employee turnover by managing expectations better when people apply for a vacancy.

The new careers website allows for showing more content (text and images) related to vacancies. This allows Delhaize to provide more information about the open position and explain their EVP (Employer Value Proposition).

Applicants get a better picture of the requirements and conditions regarding the position and the company. Thus, they know what to expect when they accept an eventual job offer and are more likely to stay. As a result, 15% of people who view the vacancy details apply for a job.


Delhaize put great effort into creating a human-centric, measurable recruitment process.

Creating a new careers website wasn’t enough for them. They considered it a mere game starter.

They became game changers by measuring and analysing their talent acquisition process. The insights give Delhaize a competitive edge in the shrinking labour market, as they are now aware of candidates’ needs and are ready to respond in a flexible way.

Today, Delhaize’s Human Resources department are able to measure their contribution to the business in numbers, which helps them to win over internal departments when there’s a need for investment.


We love game-changers like Delhaize. That’s why we helped them on their digital journey. Start yours now:

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