29. March 2021

Interview with Michal Meško

Mr. Michal Meško is a co-founder and the CEO of  Martinus.sk, the biggest internet bookstore in Slovakia. He also co-founded Referaty.sk in 2000, the largest website for students, which was sold to Atlas.sk in 2004. He was awarded TREND TOP Manager of the Year 2018, was a finalist of EY Entrepreneur of the Year in Slovakia, and was  featured in lists as Forbes 30 Under 30 and New Europe 100 list of innovators for 2017, compiled by  Financial Times and Google. Mr. Meško obtained the Master of management and marketing at the Faculty of Management at Comenius  University (Bratislava, Slovakia), executive program at Harvard Business School (Boston, USA) and consumer behavior and e-commerce at Rijksuniversitat Groningen (The Netherlands).

1. What are the main disrupters for E-Commerce development?
I think all the main barriers are constantly shrinking, and this can be seen on the proven track record, as e-commerce is really a full-fledged part of retail in most segments nowadays (we felt it especially during the pandemic period). There is a very high level of services provided as well as online shopping security, which helps in growing confidence in online shopping.
2. What innovations have you successfully implemented?
We strive to build Martinus growth on several pillars, which aim to give the best possible service, experience, and created value for the customer. In separate areas – logistics, the website, stone bookstores – it is primarily about evolution itself because in those main areas the basic market expectations are already quite well defined and it is important to constantly fine-tune and improve every detail.
3. Tell us about the key areas where Martinus has improved the most in recent years and why?
There is certainly room for improvement when it comes to bridging the gap between the physical and virtual worlds, which we have been striving for for many years. Meaning the website is not only an e-shop but also an information channel for stone bookstores about the availability of books and reviews of the titles that can be purchased. And on the other hand, bookstores are not just stores, but a point of contact for the customer, where we can advise or help the customer. We are also expanding our digital content and the offer of e-books is indeed very diverse, many books are published in both paper and electronic form. The effort of creating an increasingly unique experience in bookstores is for example in the form of the constant expansion of our cafes where people can spend their time surrounded by books.
4. What will be the impact of Covid 19 on further business development?
In the short term, Covid-19 represents a significant change in dynamics between online and offline, which have been relatively balanced so far in our business, but due to the limitations, offline is unable to fulfill its potential to the fullest these days and the majority of businesses have moved online. Many people have been forced to try online shopping and thus Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of e-commerce into everyday lives. However, we think both pillars, offline and online, will continue to be the key in the long term and their mutual synergy can bring customers the greatest added value.
Martinus.sk is the largest internet bookstore in Slovakia and also operates 12 brick-and-mortar bookstores, coffee-houses Foxford, and an on-line bookstore Martinus.cz in Czech Republic. The company is the absolute winner of MasterCard Merchant of the Year for years 2013 through 2019 and holder of Slovak Gold Certificate for excellent quality. In 2018, it ranked 1st overall in KPMG Nunwood Customer Experience Ranking Slovakia and in 2011 it ranked 161th in Deloitte Fast 500 EMEA ranking of the fastest growing technology companies. Martinus.sk won the Main Award in SME category at Via Bona Slovakia 2012 for adherence to the principles of corporate social responsibility and ranked 4th in Forbes&Profesia.sk Most Attractive Employer of 2013 awards.