Businesses built to serve customers in the physical world have been in the digital transformation fight of their lives over the last year as they try to survive COVID-19.
Ashley Sheetz, At Home Group’s Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Digital Officer, and Wanda Gierhart, Cinemark Theatres Global CMO, led a recent CMO Club Virtual Roundtable that shined a light on some of their extraordinary lessons learned -- and how omnichannel strategies for meeting new consumer expectations have been the keys to survival.
As a specialty retailer with 50,000 unique items in each store, At Home Group faced a massive lift during COVID to accelerate its omnichannel strategy. What began as a plan to test BOPIS in 28 stores in March accelerated to a roll-out to essentially all but a handful of its stores.
When you’re completely shut down and you are bleeding millions of dollars paying leases with no revenue, you have to be super creative about what will keep you alive and sustain you. Fortunately, Cinemark Theatres had invested the two years prior to the pandemic in an enhanced mobile app, hired an e-commerce digital team, and spent the necessary capital for the marketing tech stack to create the contactless experience that survival required. We were able to leverage that Marketing Tech stack to build a new product called a “Private Watch Party” in 10 days whereas the customer can rent out the whole auditorium for themselves and 20 friends in their “Safe Pod.”
At Home Group’s delivery partner became an idle resource overnight when the pandemic hit, so the company figured out how to bring them a completely new model for home delivery of furniture purchases. Without any additional capital expenditures or technical lifts, At Home Group was able to maintain delivery.
“We needed to find a way to get products to our customers, especially in the environment where we have a closed store. Somehow we were able to figure it all out in a matter of weeks, by working with our existing partner.”
– Ashley Sheetz
For movie theatres, the new customer experience is tied directly to the need to feel safe from the virus. From disinfection methods to HVAC systems, to overhauling the mobile app for a completely contactless experience -- Cinemark has rallied like a startup to completely transform the customer journey in a post-pandemic world.
“When it comes to being clean and safe and contactless, it’s not even a conversation - it was crisis mode, and we just had to do it. The organization rallied, and once you rally behind things like that, it makes it so easy to get other things done quickly too.”
– Wanda Gierhart
EVP Global Chief Marketing Officer
At Home Group Inc.