Askul revolutionizes internal communication with Slack

“For Askul, Slack isn’t a productivity tool but a type of innovation.”

Yosuke UchiyamaChief Technology Officer, Askul

Tokyo-based business and consumer retail enterprise Askul Corporation is always evolving to better serve its customers. And according to Yosuke Uchiyama, Askul’s chief technology officer, delivering top-notch products for modern businesses begins with strong internal communication.

So when email couldn’t keep up with the pace of innovation, Uchiyama and Askul turned to Slack to amplify collaboration and digital transformation across the company. With Slack, teams at Askul have been able to:

  • Request, share and access crucial information and data immediately
  • Easily search for data and documents
  • Quickly iterate and UX test original software, apps and integrations
  • Free up employees’ valuable time

“Digital transformation means digitizing systems and eliminating waste, but it also means going digital ourselves too. I looked around for a tool that could achieve both of these elements.”

Yosuke Uchiyama Chief Technology Officer, Askul


Increasing efficiency and transparency by switching from email to Slack

Askul Corporation operates Askul, a business-oriented retail outlet and Lohaco, a consumer-oriented retail outlet. Back when Askul’s engineering department relied on email for internal communication, important information would often get buried in inboxes, creating delays before teammates could address issues. The need to select the right recipients, titles and greetings compounded communication delays.

Switching from email to channel-based messaging with Slack in 2016 ultimately sped up communication within the engineering department and gave workers back some of their precious time. Teammates could now use emojis to respond to simple inquiries, reducing what Uchiyama refers to as an email “reply hurdle.” Since adopting Slack, Askul has saved its engineering team of 50 employees nearly 300 working hours a month.

After the engineering department’s success, Askul began rolling out Slack across other departments. In 2019, Aksul launched #pj_bigpromotion, a large-scale marketing channel. This channel helps teammates obtain information relevant to marketing and join a marketing initiative mid-flight by looking back at the timeline to get up to speed. According to Uchiyama, the channel “eliminated ‘I didn’t hear about that’ situations and enabled the focus to be on marketing using the same information.”

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Slack has also helped human resources streamline its recruitment process. Previously, the human resources team vetted candidates via an email-screening process. Since introducing Slack, the human resources team uses the #team-eng-career-interview channel to notify the document screening team.

“There is a particular need for speed when it comes to engineer recruitment. The first step for us was to speed up communication between parties,” says Uchiyama.

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“Departments have told us they can’t imagine working without Slack. It reduces the time it takes to share information, freeing up time for creativity.”

Yosuke Uchiyama Chief Technology Officer, Askul

Speeding up incident response while saving 365 hours a year

In one of Askul’s large distribution centers, employees used to physically check distributed products for abnormalities. This was a time-intensive method that involved delays between incident detection and resolution.

Askul ran a trial by creating a network of fault-prediction devices distributed across 20 different points within the Askul Value Center Kansai distribution center. If an error was detected, the prediction device would contact the relevant party via Slack. This system eliminated the need to place employees physically on site, improving efficiency and timely repairs. The trial also revealed that automating error dedication in Slack could save 365 hours annually.

Sharing crucial information and enabling rapid decision-making

In the future, Askul hopes to integrate more tools into Slack to address needs such as approvals to power rapid decision-making. Uchiyama also hopes to usher in companywide deployment of Slack as soon as possible in order to boost cross-departmental use, as well as dissemination of information from management to the rest of the company. Uchiyama is also looking forward to having teams utilize Slack’s search functionality.

“The more our communications move into Slack, the more information we can collect and share on the platform,” Uchiyama says. “We think of this as ‘a chemical reaction,’ where the employee searching for something can quickly connect with the employee providing the information.”

Since adopting Slack, teams across Askul have been able to solve problems faster and build a stronger culture of transparent teamwork and collaboration. By providing a space where individual workers can communicate in their own voice, Askul aims to create a climate where anybody, not just specific personnel and leadership, can share information and ideas.

“I want to open up communications to create a transparent environment,” Uchiyama says. “Slack helps us advance our mission at maximum speed.”