10 Ways to Supercharge Your Store Comms: Tips from Sephora’s Director of Communications

October 13, 2020

Whether it’s re-thinking loyalty programs, delivering same-day convenience to customers, or pioneering programs in support of inclusion and racial justice, beauty giant Sephora is a retailer that’s truly at the forefront of innovation.

All that progress means it’s more important than ever that Sephora is able to align, engage, and inspire the employees that bring their innovative visions to life: the thousands of Beauty Advisors across more than 500 stores in the US and Canada.

We recently sat down with Tara Maffeo, Director of Communications at Sephora, to discuss how the brand has used Zipline to help prepare their teams for all the constant changes that come with managing an innovative business during COVID, and beyond. 

In Tara’s words, here are 10 ways Sephora uses communication to stay ahead of the curve and keep their Beauty Advisers engaged:

1. Always strive for better:

“Sephora has a saying – if it’s not broke, fix it. What that means is our teams have to be agile, ready to turn on a dime and execute flawlessly. Being at the forefront of innovation, we’re continuously testing, learning, testing again.”

2. Believe in the value of your comms team:

“Comms is in a unique situation because it truly is all knowing. We have a team that literally knows each and everything occurring in our stores and what every function of the org is doing. That’s an incredible miss not to leverage it.”

3. Do more than just “push” information out: 

“With over 500 stores, I knew that my team needed to do more than just take information in and push it out to stores. That’s why I created a strategic group that took pride in quality, accuracy,  aesthetics, used data and feedback to ensure better store engagement and execution and helped the company reach its goals.”

4. Adopt the philosophy “Information is Power”:

“[We believe communications should] arm teams with the knowledge, training, and information needed to drive sales and metrics, fuel their passion around why the company is special, and turn that into strong results – All while executing flawlessly. We at Sephora have taken a stronger stance on the philosophy that ‘information empowers our teams,’ and the more they know, the better they can drive the business and deliver for our clients. What that’s resulted in is that our hourly employees are more informed and engaged, and they’ve really been taken on the ‘journey’ for the initiatives we’ve gone after and what Sephora really stands for.”

5. Invest in the right tools:

“If the tools you have don’t support a streamlined, effective machine, your teams will waste time trying to find content. Field leaders need to be armed with the info needed to operate as a multi-unit manager. Before Zipline, Sephora’s leaders didn’t feel informed and spent too much time trying to get what they needed. As a result,  DMs were uninformed and thus unable to effectively manage their teams.” 

6. Provide localized, granular information: 

“[With COVID], any given day we have changing regulations, closings, reopenings, closings again. Communications needed to be incredibly localized – more so than I’ve ever experienced. It also became more important to communicate to our upper field teams to ensure that they received the information they needed and knew how to execute on it. 

“Zipline allowed us to communicate at an incredibly localized granular level AND as we know, there are a lot of challenges and stressors that teams are dealing with during the pandemic. So it’s worth highlighting that Zipline also allowed us to communicate in a way that was engaging and motivational. It also has allowed us to feel more confident about our stores’ ability to execute well, with tools such as the day sheet, ability to update messages and notify teams when we’ve done so.”

7. Invest in your team’s knowledge, education, and well-being:

“Employee morale has always been important to us. We want people to show up to work every day excited to be at Sephora. But COVID has introduced a whole slew of stressors, both at work and at home for many. We’ve taken whatever steps we can to recognize and support our teams for the hard work they’re putting in every day.

“One example is the robust, strategic approach we’ve taken to contests and recognition. We’re running a contest 1-2 times a month to support product launches and key business metrics that our stores control. It was incredibly important that we supported our general employee’s well-being as well, so each week we offered self-care education: skills like meditation, stress management, and relaxation techniques.”

8. Take action quickly and effectively:

“We rolled out Zipline super quickly and pushed it to the field while stores were still closed [due to COVID]. This not only helped us prepare our store teams to interact with customers in a different way when they returned, but also helped us take care of our people. We spent that time really investing in them and their education. I am so thankful we took action when we did.”

9. Get store associates on board with changes by providing a feedback loop:

“We’ve kept a constant feedback loop and pulse with our teams on sentiment, and when it comes to any big initiative, the field is highly engaged. Their buy-in is critical. It’s important that our employees feel incredibly connected to and informed about the progress we’re hoping to make on things like the 15% Pledge and introducing more black-owned brands to our stores. We’re trying to create lasting change, and it’s a journey that we want to bring our employees along on. We need to know that they know we want to do better, and they’re seeing an active effort and actions towards delivering on that commitment.” 

10. Focus on simplification wherever possible:

“For our teams, we’ve focused on simplification wherever possible. While they’re are innovative, new things we’re implementing for clients, where we can keep things simple and not over-engineer, we’re focused on that – focusing teams on what’s within their controls and preparing them as much as possible 

For more tips and insight, watch the speaking session with Total Retail here.

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