Insights from Leaders

Sep 22, 2020

2 min read

Can Robots Deliver Joy? — Julie Roehm

Party City stores worldwide are known for their colorful aesthetic, joyous aura, and exciting atmosphere. A lot of these feelings are delivered to the customers directly through the store associates. However, with the ongoing trend of contactless shopping due to COVID-19, the interaction
between customers and employees is no longer the same.

Julie Roehm, Chief Marketing and Experience Officer, shares how Party City is adapting to this new normal while remaining true to its core — spreading joy.

There has been a 13% increase in average utilization of brain powered robots since January 2020 in retail locations” (Forbes, 2020). This statistic may seem over the top, but do you think this could be something for Party City over time?

“This is an interesting question. Our mission as a company is to help people create joy by making it easy for people to create unforgettable memories. That is the first litmus test for any solution or technology we consider. The idea of brain-powered robots might be interesting from a stocking of shelves’ perspective or inventory checks. In the immediate future, I can see its efficacy in the sanitization, like cleaning floors. These types of functions are ones that do not directly impact the customer service or replace the associate who is helping a customer plan for a party or pick out just the right favors to go with a princess-themed birthday party. However, I can’t imagine replacing a human with a robot when our mission is to help customers create joy. There is just something special and uniquely human about inspiring and delivering on a one-of-a-kind experience.

“Don’t get me wrong, though the technology is essential in helping us deliver joy. As I already mentioned, we have to get curbside and same-day-delivery right. We need to offer a better online and mobile shopping experience, contactless shopping, virtual shopping, augmented reality, and AI. I could even see my way to a robot that would help us fill balloons. But I stand by my statement, that at least in the stores, there is no substitute for our associates who embody the notion of joy. It is contagious. I don’t think robots have evolved enough to simulate the kind of emotion we are in the business of providing.”

Thanks for your insights on the matter, Julie.