Founded in 1969 in Limoges, France, Sephora is now a multinational beauty retailer with roughly 1,900 stores in 34 countries. It’s known for its innovative open-sell environment, luxurious products, and interactive shopping experience. The company is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's leading luxury goods group.
Sephora’s retail experience is one of its major competitive advantages. The company blends the best of both worlds: customers can browse and try on products at will, free from disturbance, or they can ask in-store staff for help.
To ensure customers receive the best retail experience possible, every staff member must be incredibly knowledgeable about Sephora's range of specialties, including skincare in general. Staff members must also be aware of additional factors when advising customers, such as their wants, needs, skin type, and tone.
For this reason, employee in-store training is high on Sephora’s list of priorities. So when the company opened roughly 1,000 new stores and expanded into 12 new countries between 2011 and 2020, ensuring the customer experience was consistent throughout was important.
That's why Sephora decided to bring an expert on board to support their Director of Strategy on an organization-wide in-store employee education program. The ideal candidate to lead this mission-critical initiative would need at least 2-4 years of experience at a top-tier consulting firm that could help devise, roll out, and ensure the success of an employee in-store training program.
Having heard about Graphite's on-demand talent acquisition model, the platform's network of independent talent experts, and the speed to find and onboard talent, the hiring manager at Sephora decided to reach out to a Graphite Account Executive (AE) to learn more.
After getting a platform demo and learning more about Graphite's expert vetting process, the hiring manager decided to set up an additional call to discuss the project scope. Once the project scope was defined, the AE posted the project on the platform and immediately identified and hand-picked 35 potential experts.
Using the platform's in-app messaging and video conferencing features, the hiring manager interviewed the top four candidates from the list of 35. The chosen candidate was an independent expert with prior MBB experience.
The hiring manager was particularly impressed with the experts' prior role at McKinsey and their experience working on several client projects in the consumer goods/retail space, and their role as the Director of Operations (US) for Cerego LLC, an international learning technology company based out of Tokyo, Japan.
Before kicking off the project, the AE set up a call between Sephora’s hiring manager and the expert to establish expectations, walk them through the platform together, and explain how logging hours and payments worked on the platform.
Once onboarded, the expert started by creating an online survey on the customers' experience of 100+ beauty brands, analyzing the results, and presenting the key findings to Sephora's Director of Strategy.
The project's next step was to conduct a financial analysis on a new program to personalize employee in-store perks and benefits. The expert then codified a new master grid (which provides training guidelines for brands based on their unique visit frequency and duration based on brand size and stage in their lifecycle) and established a reporting mechanism to evaluate the effectiveness of brand representative visits.
For four weeks, the expert worked tirelessly to understand every aspect of the brand and customer experience to develop an employee in-store training program that will enable Sephora to deliver a seamless and consistent experience across all stores. And the results speak for themselves.
Thanks to the expert’s work, Sephora had a bumper year in 2018. In its end-of-year results, the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton group noted that Sephora's growth was one of its key highlights and that the brand "strengthened its positions in all its markets and in digital."
What's more, Sephora opened around 100 new stores that year, including the first Sephora-branded stores in Russia. The expert's support in establishing and rolling out an employee in-store training program helped Sephora provide a consistently first-class customer experience, regardless of the store, location, or staff's levels of experience.
Not only was Sephora able to drive immediate results by onboarding an independent expert versus a full-time employee (which would have taken longer to onboard), but it was also able to save money $45,000 as a result of partnering with Graphite.