Innovative ways to navigate a business challenge — Julie Roehm

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I’m in discussion with Julie Roehm, who currently serves as the Chief Experience and Marketing Officer for Party City. We’re discussing trends and developments on a regular basis and we wanted to catch up about her first months at Party City and how the changing world has an impact on her work, life and plans.

It’s an interview in several chapters, this is part 1.

Julie, we’ve been talking over the past few months, since you joined Party City.

Who thought that in December, when you joined, that your first 6 months would end up being like this, right? Confined and virtual partying, curb delivery, you name it…

I joined Party City five months ago and I was excited because while the company is beloved, there is still so much that can be done to make Party City even more relevant. We had built a plan to focus on delivering party services and experiences rather than just the party goods themselves.

It just seemed like the world was our oyster, nowhere to go but up. And then BAM — 60 days into the job — here we are with this unprecedented pandemic that none of us have experienced before.

So first I thought, ‘what did I just get myself into’, but I immediately began to see it as a huge blessing because it’s the perfect impetus to force us to focus on what’s most important now — our services.

In less than 30 days, we launched curbside AND same-day delivery. We have really just stepped up our game, in many areas.

We’ve recently launched drive-by birthdays and virtual party kits: a lot of people are wondering ‘how do I do my own birthday party’ in this virtual world — how do I find the right platform — how do I get invitations out — how do I makes sure everybody gets their stuff — what do we do once we all join the virtual party — and how do we interact…

Based on all these requests, we’ve created a really simple step-by-step plan for people to follow. They know exactly what it is they have to do to create an awesome ultimate virtual birthday party or graduation party — really any kind of party.

And to make it even easier, we offer packages that are specifically designed to host a virtual party. As a celebrant, you can go onto our site, pick the package of your choice for you and your guests, and then it will all be sent to you.

Once the package arrives, you hop in your car, with the little favor bags for all of your guests, and drive by and drop off those bags in everybody’s driveway.

Then, you set the time and send the e-invitations out and you’ll all just join each other on a virtual platform of your choice, complete with our free downloadable activities and games — where you’ll party, you’ll chat, you’ll have your costumes, you’ll play the interactive games — it will be the next best thing.

I think that this is something that will last. While we will be able to get together again (soon I hope), this has really been a revelation about being able to connect with people who aren’t physically as close to us, but that we can feel close to via a virtual party. So also in that way, it’s been really remarkable.

The innovations we’re launching for when our stores will have reopened, impress me and I hope will be loved by our customers. Our scan-and-go app will make it easy for people to be contactless. We expect that it’s going to take some time for us to feel comfortable being close to others, so we want to do everything we can to offer options to mitigate the amount of touch that will be necessary.

Now that we started to up our game, we’re just going to keep on going! We’ve got curbside and same-day delivery happening now in about 450+ of our 750 stores. And when we reopen full time, every store will have it. Which is where we should have been to begin with.

So in the end, this situation has helped us up our game and focus on what’s really important — and that is our customer and their experience in our store, online and with all of the services we can offer.

Thanks Julie, looking forward to our next chat.

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