Four top retail leaders involved in digital, marketing and customer experience strategies shared how COVID-19 impacted their companies, and how they pivoted to keep customers engaged, in a panel talk at this week’s #ElevateICX, a virtual symposium presented by the ICX Association.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard in early 2020, shuttering stores and entertainment complexes, retailers had to pivot fast and faced a big decision: should they embrace the strategy already in place pre-COVID, develop a brand-new pandemic strategy or, possibly, create a hybrid of the two.
Leaders in retail customer experience innovation shared their answers to that critical question in a one-hour panel, “CX Strategies Post-COVID: What Stays and What Goes?” during this week’s #ElevateICX, a virtual symposium presented by the ICX Association.
The one-day symposium included nearly a half dozen sessions on topics relevant to brands striving to boost the customer experience by embracing interactive technology.
The CX strategies panel, moderated by ICX Association Managing Director David Drain, featured Grant Buntje, VP of marketing for Mall of America; Christiana DiMattesa, senior director of marketing, DTC channels and experiences at Under Armour; Lindsey Goldstein, senior director of digital marketing at Behr Paint Company and EJ Kritz, EVP, training and customer experience at ath Power Consulting.
For Mall of America, the pandemic outset sparked a drive to gather information. Annual traffic at the mall and its entertainment complex hits 40 million visitors a year.
“Early on we needed more information, an understanding how guests were interacting with our property and brand. We needed to know what they were looking for and what they were comfortable with,” Buntje said during the one-hour talk. “We double-downed on tools to get that info and we re-imagined what our experience could be based on state guidelines and consumer expectations.”
For the mall leadership it was about realizing how the pandemic was really changing the business and determining how to provide success to tenants and retailers.
“What we’re doing today is still going to change three months from now. We are not going back to pre-COVID. We are going to continue to evolve and move forward,” said Buntje.
A sea of change also took place at Under Armour, an athletic leisurewear retailer with 250 locations, a robust e-commerce channel and a strong community engagement philosophy.
DiMattesa said her marketing and experiential teams were “shaken up quite a bit” in terms of job strategy given store closures and cancellation of community-focused events.
Her teams “had to stop and relook at what their actual jobs were” given store closures and event cancellations due to COVID-19.
“Though the stores were shut down that didn’t mean the work stopped. We needed to re-invent and we needed to rethink about how we were going to open safely for our consumers when we opened,” said DiMattesa. “On the events side, and the field marketing side.. that to me is some of the most interesting work being done because we couldn’t engage with customers in a physical setting anymore and had to think a little bit differently about what community engagement looked like and what experiential engagement looked like,” she said.
That’s just a small portion of the invaluable insight the four panelists shared during the session. To learn more, click here to view the panel talk.
The annual #ElevateICX event, hosted by Networld Media Group and the ICX Association, provides leaders from retail, restaurants, banks, hotels and other B2C companies a rare opportunity to learn from CX thought leaders about what’s working, what’s not, and how to create amazing experiences for their own customers. The mission of the ICX Association is to connect B2C brands to technology that elevates the customer experience.
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