The Coronavirus pandemic has brought a number of massive changes to our world, and the uncertainty it brought has had a huge effect on virtually every company in every corner of the world. Some companies responded well, and others struggled. In the COVID Pivots & Lessons Learned webinar panel hosted by PMA.LA, I interviewed three product leaders on how they responded to these changes, and how they are weathering the storm. The list of panelists:
- Randi Eichenbaum, VP of Product at Tradesy
- Chris Bussard, VP of Product – Pricing and Distribution at Ticketmaster
- Issa Johnson, Director of Product at Goldstar
Each company and product team had their own journey, and we discussed the approaches and consequences as they reacted, starting in March and up to the current date. The following is a high level synopsis of these company’s reactions – watch the video for more information and details. It was a very interesting webinar and insight into agility and business resiliency.
Ticketmaster is a giant company selling around 500 million tickets for over 40,000 events. Events were at the top of the list of industries affected by COVID-19. Chris discussed how Ticketmaster dealt first with delays, then outright cancellations as live in-person event ticketing dwindled to nothing this spring.
Ticketmaster acted swiftly. They sent people home and did the hard work of refunding tickets and managing the crisis at hand. They did research on their customers to find out how they felt and to better adapt to their needs, and ended up breaking their users into three categories: willing to return to events now, cautious, and won’t go to events until the pandemic is cured. This breakdown helped them address each of the personas. They swiftly adapted their site to address new needs – namely allowing ticket holders to know their event’s status and easily get a refund. In the meantime, they are offering drive-in events, focusing on areas around the globe that are actually having events (like New Zealand), and preparing for the return to live events.
Goldstar is another events company that promotes live events. Since they are smaller, they did not have the reserves; however, they did have the ability to be more nimble. They focused on raising funds for their clientele, theaters and performers, while they figured out a plan B. Issa explained how in May, after some deliberation — and recognizing that things weren’t going to be over quickly – they started work on stellartickets.com. This is a new site that promotes live online events with high production value, and they have helped their clientele (existing and new) to deliver on these types of events.
Tradesy is an entirely different industry and model: peer-to-peer luxury fashion. What makes Tradesy stand out is having the feel of a traditional e-commerce site. Interestingly, Tradesy experienced some drop in purchases, but also had more issues with the supply side dynamics. As Randi informed us, Tradesy made a lot of long and lasting changes, including going completely remote and restructuring their returns program. They worked on ensuring that purchased clothing was shipped, as there were issues with stay-at-home orders, which cleaned up technical debt and made their app stronger for future growth.
It was great to hear how these three companies faced the challenges of a global pandemic. All of them rose to the occasion, and made lasting improvements for users and for their companies. I encourage viewing the webinar to hear more from these great product leaders: Chris, Issa and Randi about their experience.