Why Slack is a ‘breath of fresh air’
In an era when millions of fans tap beauty influencers for glow-up tips to look their best, demand for the world’s best makeup brands can run hot. Suffice to say, makeup enthusiasts can thank Sephora Southeast Asia (SEA) for giving them access to all the top-notch hair, beauty and skincare products their hearts desire.
The company runs Sephora’s omnichannel retail operations in Singapore, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia. It also has franchise operations in India and Indonesia, and an online-only business in the Philippines.
To service these diverse markets, Sephora SEA has employees and partners distributed throughout these regions and needed a tool for effective collaboration. It trialled several tools like Skype for Business, Google Hangouts and Facebook Workplace, amongst others — but Slack won out.
“Communication is complex in an organisation like ours because of our geographic and cultural diversity. Slack helps solve communication issues by making information more accessible,” says Bregadeesh Samapathy, Sephora SEA’s Chief Technology Officer.
“Slack was a breath of fresh air at Sephora SEA. Simple IM tools limited how we could collaborate, whereas with Slack we could create focused threads or channels for certain topics. It quickly became easier to model work in, and around, Slack,” says Samapathy.
“It was Slack’s integrations paired with the ease of communication that set Slack apart. You can create focused threads and design work around Slack’s flexibility.”
Advancing adoption from the bottom up
Before Slack, cross-collaboration was inhibited by email and other workflow management tools that created more complexity than clarity.
“Piecing information together and having focused conversations was difficult on email. There were times when I felt like I was wading through hundreds of email threads—it was like a quagmire.”
The movement to Slack was organic. It was first adopted by the company’s engineering and product teams, followed by UX and UI teams and other digital functions. Pretty soon, leadership took notice, seeing how Slack removed friction from remote collaboration.
And safe to say, the company hasn’t looked back.
“At some point, we realised that Slack just worked. So we scaled the idea up to the leadership team. After that, Slack became the communication platform of choice. It was integrated into the onboarding process,” says Samapathy.
One of the main benefits of Slack is its integrations with other platforms. Sephora SEA has improved productivity by customising its digital HQ around commonly-used apps like Zoom, Google Suite, Microsoft Suite, JIRA, Confluence and AWS.
“It’s Slack’s integrations paired with the ease of communication that set Slack apart. You can create focused threads and design work around Slack’s flexibility,” says Samapathy.
A more human culture, from anywhere
On Slack, deep collaboration for flexible teams is super easy, thanks to dedicated spaces for specific projects and threaded conversations.
“Slack models how human communication works, as opposed to having to adapt your communication style to the tool,” says Samapathy.
For flexible workforces, working from home can potentially impact a workplace’s unique camaraderie and energy. To overcome this, Samapathy suggests making space for fun and self-expression on Slack. For example, Sephora SEA employees like to use custom emojis and gifs when working remotely.
“If I think about Sephora’s culture, it goes beyond simply innovating in the beauty space and focusing on the customer. It’s about having fun while we’re doing it. This would be hard to do without Slack,” says Samapathy.
If I think about Sephora’s culture, it goes beyond innovating in the beauty space and focusing on the customer. It’s about having fun while we’re doing it. This would be hard to do without Slack.
Building a rich ecosystem for connection and innovation
Sephora SEA works with external consultants and developers worldwide, as well as its customer service agents based in the Philippines. So employees need a secure place to collaborate with external partners. That’s where Slack Connect comes in. Slack Connect allows Sephora SEA’s employees to move conversations with trusted partners out of siloed email threads and into Slack.
The company also uses Slack Huddles—lightweight audio and screen-sharing that recreate quick, informal discussions—to quickly connect without having to schedule meetings.
“Sometimes you’re trying to get a point across or relay context, but it’s difficult or time-consuming to type. You can jump on a call and get your message across. Slack Huddles replicate those office moments when people stop by your desk to ask a quick question,” says Samapathy.
Slack increases transparency too. For example, the company has a channel called
#dev-deployments dedicated to deployments on its websites and apps. If an update is rolled out, a change log is published on Slack that its customer service, development and subscriber teams can all view.
“We roll out deployment notifications when pushing live updates on the Sephora app or website. We also started adding our monitoring tools and alerts around it as well. This has streamlined our deployments by alerting our engineers to collaborate on any issues in near real-time,” says Samapathy.
The company is also trialling using Slack to simplify in-store communications. It has created a workspace for all store managers and assigned one account to each store. This means headquarters can broadcast messages to store managers, who can then share messages with retail associates in each store.
Slack was the only tool that could bring together such a diverse workforce, help it build a cohesive culture and supercharge innovation.
“Post-Covid, every business is a digital business. You will have people working across the world and they won’t be adhering to standard hours of work,” says Samapathy.
“I think tools like Slack give companies the flexibility to work effectively wherever their teams are.”