Twenty million small businesses in India have a distinct advantage and partner in Meesho, the country’s fast-growing internet commerce company. Started in 2016 by Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, Meesho was originally conceived to help mom-and-pop stores sell online. After realising their primary users didn’t actually own shops, they pivoted to providing supply, logistics and payment infrastructure to enable sellers and entrepreneurs to monetise their social networks—with the goal of enabling 100 million businesses to pave their path to success online.
“We’re democratising internet commerce for everyone,” says group product manager Shikhar Saxena. One of Fast Company’s “50 Most Innovative Companies” in 2020, Meesho has grown exponentially, raising $570 million and doubling its valuation to $4.9 billion in the past six months.
Prior to the pandemic, Meesho’s operations revolved around its headquarters in Bangalore, where more than 1,200 employees relied on Google Meet, WhatsApp, email and in-person meetings. But when teams started to work from home, those channels became a burden.
“We faced a lot of noise, missed important communications and struggled with work-life balance,” says director of business Nikita Dawda. “We needed a common platform where everyone could seamlessly collaborate, and Slack was the unanimous choice that everyone wanted.”
Since April 2021, Slack has had a positive impact on every team at Meesho, empowering them to integrate both new and existing tools and to connect through Slack channels, virtual spaces to share messages, workplace automations and files. Even while they work from home, teams can build the best possible experience for their sellers, from collaborating on feedback-driven products to solving incidents more quickly. “With Slack, everything happens in one channel, and what used to take a couple of days is now resolved in a matter of hours,” Saxena says.
With Slack, everything happens in one channel, and what used to take a couple of days is now resolved in a matter of hours.”
Building feedback-driven products and finding fast solutions
To ensure Meesho sellers have the best possible experience, Saxena and his teams rely on internal and external feedback to build products. “First, we identify the most important problems we need to solve,” he says. “Then we collaborate closely with our tech, design and business teams to ensure we’re building the right solutions. We’re working across different time zones, which means effective collaboration in Slack is key to successfully launching these products.”
Working with so many different departments, Saxena and his team previously lost precious time switching between platforms. “Because all the teams we work with use their own individual tools, like Figma and Jira, it was very hard to keep the conversation organised,” he says. With the ability to integrate those apps directly into their Slack workflow, there are fewer roadblocks and more resolutions. “We can collaborate seamlessly in Slack.”
Every new feature starts with a dedicated channel. From ideation to iteration to launch, the feature takes shape with input from cross-departmental stakeholders. “When every team is working together on a product, we feel more connected, both with our users and each other,” Saxena says.
Post-launch, feedback is even more important. Previously, support would send a weekly, all-company email with important customer feedback—but much of it got lost on its way to the appropriate teams. “It was very chaotic to distribute information, and would take a week to fix anything,” Saxena says.
With Slack channels, they’ve drastically reduced the time between when a customer reports an issue to finding a solution. “Providing world-class customer service boils down to solving queries in the fastest possible manner,” Saxena says. “With Slack, we ensure feedback goes straight to the right people. Issues that would previously get lost or take days to solve are now addressed in hours.”
For example, a recently launched feature had various edge use cases, and certain functions didn’t immediately work on all devices. “Because we could immediately flag the issue to our engineering team in Slack, they could pick it up and close the loop in minutes,” Saxena says.
“Slack empowers cross-departmental teams to come together on one platform and still use the tools they rely on every day.”
Welcoming new employees by connecting in Slack
On day one, Meesho’s new hires are invited to all relevant Slack channels, from larger public announcement channels to team-specific go-tos. “This allows new hires to not just join the conversation but review historical context as needed,” says Ashish Kumar Singh, Meesho’s chief HR officer. “Every time someone new joins, Slack is crucial for icebreakers, context and day-to-day workflows,” Saxena says.
Internally, Singh and his team use Slack to coordinate at multiple touchpoints leading up to an employee’s first day, including coordinating equipment, granting administrative access and administering ID cards. For common HR questions, employees can use the custom MeeBot that combines Slack and artificial intelligence. “If someone has a question on a specific policy or problem, they can get an immediate response in the #HR-desk channel,” Singh says. “From an HR management perspective, it’s so much smoother.”
Using Slack is especially essential now, with a majority of new hires starting from home. “Because of the pandemic, it’s so important to ensure employees feel like part of the company and get a vibe for our culture,” Singh says. “As the primary way we communicate, Slack is very important for that transition.”
For example, there’s #meesho-mantras, a channel where employees discuss Meesho’s values. This particular space is complemented by master classes led by senior leaders. “There are also tons of channels for team bonding, fun and other group activities,” Singh says. “Slack is helping us build an open culture.”
“Because of the pandemic, it’s so important to ensure employees feel like part of the company and get a vibe for our culture. As the primary way we communicate, Slack is very important for that transition.”
Successfully building an open, remote culture
When employees started to work from home, Singh quickly noticed that collaboration decreased and WhatsApp use increased. “It started interfering with personal lives, and we didn’t have the proper balance,” Singh says. Slack helped on both counts. “Once we started using Slack, collaboration went up immediately.”
From parties and happy hours to in-between-meeting moments, Meesho’s in-office engagements were always a huge culture driver. “In the absence of having the larger employee base present in the office, one of the key things I kept struggling with in HR was how to create a culture,” Singh says. “Slack is the solution.”
In fact, Saxena says, Slack’s implementation had an immediate effect. “As soon as we moved to Slack, those fun, watercooler-type conversations started organically happening again.” This includes engagement at all levels of the company. “Every Friday during the company all hands, anybody at the company can ask the leaders and founders questions directly in the #meesho-internal,” Slack channel Singh says. Employees can also reach out via direct messages, and often do. “Slack helps us ensure higher transparency throughout the organisation.”
In a matter of months, Meesho’s teams used Slack to fundamentally change their workflows and transition their culture to adapt to remote work. “Slack enables us to maintain an engaging culture,” Saxena says, “but it also comes with all the important tools and features that make us work efficiently as a team to deliver the best product possible.”