In an environment of disruption at every turn for retailers, it has never been more important to deliver value to the end customer. Often this means having internal systems and teams running smoothly and communicating well.

Slack has been fortunate to be partnered with some of the biggest retail players in the world, including Shopify. Being completely cloud-based, the notion of being online is not a new concept for a business like this. However, like many, not even Shopify has been immune to recent events. The commerce powerhouse that hosts more than half a million merchants worldwide also needs to navigate the situation, while keeping teams and customers connected.

Let’s take a leaf out of Shopify’s book and see how they’ve deployed Slack to achieve alignment and bring their people-first culture to life, while also building bots on the platform to simplify workflows.

Employing bots 

The nature of the Shopify business requires the team to be connected and efficient with processes. Just like how the platform offers merchants the freedom to customise their stores, Shopify continues to create its own path by creating ‘bots’ on Slack that respond to commands, to streamline workflow and to work their way.

One of the most popular bots Shopify has created, with the help of three hundred developers, is called “Spy”. Slash commands are a shortcut for specific actions within Slack. By typing “/Spy” in Slack’s message field, the team can run over a hundred customer commands.

These commands include receiving information on customer support status updates — which helps the team manage requests and assign the appropriate support team member to channels; query information about customer insights such as the most active shops; track duration of incidents and key events on incident response timeline; create new sale repositories or add new team members to a repository, add or remove webhooks and perform offsite backups of repositories.

Uniting remote employees during COVID-19

With any organisation today, the fundamental challenge is one of alignment. Slack is an active part of Shopify’s employee engagement strategy and acts as a cultural medium for the business. Like Slack, the Shopify team went fully remote at the height of the pandemic back in March. Now Slack plays a critical role in keeping teams across seventeen locations around the world connected.

Messages on Slack are organised into groups called channels. Channels can correspond to anything – projects, teams, planning, office locations, business units, and more. They are also typically kept open to everyone in the company, to create a rich, permanent, searchable record of knowledge for all.

Since going remote, the Shopify teams have worked fast to spin up a variety of COVID-focused channels relating to customer success, demand generation, sales best practices to keep the flow of knowledge accessible and transparent.

On the culture front, the teams have also turned to Slack with daily “mental health check-ins”. This way they can ensure leaders are staying connected with their employees and providing the resources where necessary to those who may be feeling overwhelmed. We’ve also seen the parents at Shopify coming up with parenting channels, sharing best practices with one another, especially when the kids are homeschooling, and organising weekly read-alongs with their children.

These are just some of the ways Slack can be deployed to work with retailers. Others, like beauty retailer Adore, have gone on to connect with hundreds of other e-commerce business owners across Australia on Slack, to provide support for one another through the crisis.

Matt Loop is head of Asia Pacific at Slack