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Indigo Books & Music

Henry Yu

November 24, 2023

Indigo Uses Artificial Intelligence to Enhance the Candidate Experience and Support Job Seekers. Indigo AI Recruiting Case Study,


Indigo, “the world’s first cultural department store for booklovers,” is an adored and well-respected brand.

As part of Indigo’s corporate identity, they take pride in an elevated employee experience. Repeatedly ranked among the top 10 in Top Retail Employer Brand lists, it is no surprise that Indigo is flooded with over 2200 online applications every single week.

Indigo approached Ideal as their number of applications continued to climb. With manual resume screening, even the most efficient employers need a strong partner to ensure candidate wait times do not become excessive. Indigo wanted to use innovative technology to support their immense talent pool.

While other companies may only target the bottom line, Indigo was very clear that they wanted to focus on two key initiatives:

Using artificial intelligence (AI), Ideal helped Indigo reduce cost per hire by 71%, triple their qualified candidates, remove potential for hiring bias and ultimately improve recruiter efficiency 3.7x.
  • 71% Reduction in cost per hire
  • 3X Qualified candidates
  • 75%Reduction in cost per screen
  • 3.7X Recruiting efficiency

We would never cut corners on candidate experience. By investing in our candidates. By investing in the long-term success of Indigo.

Our Mission Statement reads, We owe to each other, irrespective of role or position, the same level of respect and caring as we would show to a valued friend.

“We believe every candidate should receive personalized service and attention whether they are applying for head office or a seasonal cashier role.” – Sarah Wilson, Director of Talent Acquisition, Indigo


Applicant Overload

Due to their strong employer brand, store managers were inundated with a huge number of applicants. Managers feared they could miss out on strong candidates if candidate wait times began to increase.

Applicant Optimization

Each applicant was only being considered for the exact position they applied to. This meant a lot of top candidates that could have filled a similar role or a role at a different location could be missed out on.

Multiple Positions, Languages, and Teams

Within their applicant tracking system (ATS), Indigo hires for English and bilingual positions, in many different locations.

Store sizes and team sizes also vary.

Decentralized Hiring Process

Individual Indigo store managers act as hiring managers and juggling both roles can become overwhelming.

Seasonal Hiring

Indigo employs over 6,100 people year- round with a substantial influx during the holiday season. According to the National Retail Federation, November and December can represent over 25% of annual sales for retailers.

Indigo wanted every candidate to know their status at all times, a goal nearly impossible to achieve manually.


Always innovating, Indigo wanted to see where they could streamline their hiring process and automate certain recruiting tasks.

Ideal identified five key ways to help Indigo succeed:

Improve Candidate Experience

Automatically review every candidate and notify them of their status. Reduce candidate wait times.

Automate the Resume Screening Process

Completely remove the resume screening stage and lower overall cost.

Rediscover Past Candidates

Increase qualified candidates by screening previous candidates who applied to similar roles.

Reduce Management Stress

Automate stressful aspects of the hiring process: resume screening, sifting through past applicants and manual interview coordination.

Increase Face-to-Face Time

Free up store manager’s time to spend building relationships with candidates and cultivating a positive corporate culture.

When Indigo looked at how much time individual store managers were spending screening resumes and trying to reach candidates, they knew there had to be a better way.


Sarah Wilson, Director of Talent Acquisition, and her team at Indigo were eager to try Ideal. At their large scale, they had struggled to find vendors that could manage the mass amounts of resume data they had.

Sarah worked closely with Ideal to ensure seamless integration and collected feedback from her top store managers in various regions. The focus never veered from optimizing the candidate experience.

“I think some people dismiss AI because they think it will hurt their candidate experience,’” explains Sarah. “We saw it as an opportunity to further improve ours! Ideal was able to deliver ahead of schedule, during our seasonal hiring, allowing us to put it to the test when we needed it the most.”

Additionally, Sarah was impressed by the seamless integration with their existing ATS, SmartRecruiters.

Finally, the ability to rediscover previous candidates represented significant cost savings. “The talent was already there,” Sarah explains, “we just didn’t have the resources to unlock it. Ideal found a way to triple our pace—meaning we could catch the best candidates quickly.”

“We really didn’t want to give our managers another tool to master, so the fact that Ideal could operate within our existing ATS was fantastic.” – Sarah Wilson, Director of Talent Acquisition, Indigo


Within four months of using Ideal, Indigo saw the following results:

Candidate Experience

Candidate wait times dropped significantly, top candidates are quickly identified and contacted.

Screening Costs and Cost per Hire

Screening costs plummeted 75% and overall cost per hire is down 71%.

Time to Hire

Ideal frees up precious time for store leaders that they now use for high-value tasks such as face-to- face interviewing and relationship building.

Rediscovered Candidates

Qualified candidates tripled (+196%) as the talent pool was optimized.

“Candidate experience is directly linked to quality of hire. Candidates are used to sending in applications to large retailers and never hearing back. We wanted to proactively ensure that wouldn’t happen at Indigo. Ideal helped us decrease candidate wait times, while keeping every single applicant informed.” – Sarah Wilson, Director of Talent Acquisition, Indigo