The Retail Council of Canada has been an incredible resource for retailers during the pandemic. Many of our customers in the region turned to the organization for guidance and support and so when we had the opportunity to partner with them, we jumped at the chance. Last week, we sponsored a virtual event, hosted by Zipline account manager Rachel Meyers. We invited Carmen Ip, communications and operations manager for Lush Cosmetics North America to share her communications journey during the pandemic.
With 269 shops in North America, Lush Cosmetics, like all retailers, was forced to quickly adapt to the pandemic. Suddenly, both HQ and stores were facing new challenges and big decisions, including navigating local health and safety guidelines, communicating with furloughed staff, and ensuring that customers continue to have excellent brand experiences.
Carmen’s team works behind the scenes with partners across the organization to ensure that the communications that are pushed out to stores are informative, accurate, engaging, and digestible. Ultimately, they are responsible for creating directives that drive store execution. They do it with the same special flair that Lush is known for.
At Lush, everything is handmade, from the soaps, bath bombs, and bubble bars that are made freshly each day, to the furniture that is crafted in Lush’s very own Vancouver woodshop.
“Handmade is so much more than part of our name, it’s truly who we are,” says Carmen. “We’ve stayed committed to tailoring ‘lushified’ messages that are fun and engaging.” This strong foundation of communication helped the brand adapt quickly to the pandemic, from the beginning. For Carmen, it isn’t just about sending messages to 269 shops across the continent, it’s about aligning Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) through tasks, audits, and surveys with the “why” behind the messages that unite and connect the team to the brand.
When Covid-19 first emerged, Lush immediately created a task force to ensure that the entire company was aligned.
“Zipline played a vital role in how we were able to communicate our closures, keep in touch with our shops, and engage with the fleet,” says Carmen. “We took guidance and practices from RCC and communicated directly to each of our shops, in addition to using Zipline as our information hub.” This single source of truth provides clarity and transparency across the entire brand, reinforcing that the health and safety of staff and customers remain a core priority.
Through Zipline, Lush is able to continually review perspectives and experiences that are shared by staff. “Our managers were already leveraging Zipline consistently,” says Carmen. “But during the closure period, we really saw the adoption rate from stores increase as Zipline became the one-stop-shop for access to Covid-19 related resources.”
Even when shops were closed, Lush found ways for employees to engage, thanks to Zipline. HQ collaborated with regional managers to support online learning. Training topics and work-from-home activities were circulated through Zipline, and they developed a webinar program to keep the momentum going.
“This level of conversation elevated our work during a time that could have been so much more difficult,” says Carmen. “Everyone was ready and excited to bring new learnings when we reopened.”
They also launched virtual consultations to stay connected with customers and shop staff helped with digital fulfillment. The brand also donated product to organizations helping those in need, and throughout it all, maintained a constant feedback loop with stores through Zipline.
“Looking back, it was pretty special. So many folks wanted to get involved, and they had a platform to increase participation and keep the buzz going, Carmen recalls”
As stores reopened, Lush again turned to Zipline to help the fleet manage all the new health and safety directives. Carmen explains, “At the moment with things changing all the time, we are evolving our messages daily, even sometimes hourly. Rather than send emails every couple of hours we can just update the message within our Covid folders and the stores can instantly see what’s new.” With Zipline, messages and updates can be targeted by region to ensure that information is personalized and the fleet isn’t overwhelmed with information that’s not pertinent.
We applaud the work that Lush has done during this period to enable its agility and are proud of the role that Zipline plays in aligning the fleet. This year of dramatic operational change for retailers has illustrated the role that communication plays in bringing HQ and the field together.
Thank you to RCC for providing this forum to discuss and share ideas!
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