How Vari’s Digital Transformation Prepped It for a Pandemic-Prompted Sales Surge

And so we knew we needed a strategic platform and a strategic partner to really connect all the fan experiences seamlessly all while adapting and scaling going forward. And so we partnered with Salesforce. And so now, like I said we rolled Salesforce out over the last 18 months. And really now we have an end-to-end solution from social media marketing, and -commerce all the way to sales and customer experience. So all the way across our business and these solutions really allow us to bridge the digital and data divide with customers and across our internal business units.

Drinker: Yeah, that’s pretty amazing. I just joined Salesforce about four months ago and we did a similar transformation when I was running marketing for a brand called Shinola out of Detroit. And it’s that true omnichannel connection that has that single source of truth for the customer that I think is so important in these days, when you’re tracking some of your customers from different points of purchase.

So, with the onset of COVID, what are the areas of the business that you’ve needed to pivot with, and how has maybe Salesforce played a role in that pivot?

Belote: Yeah, sure. So we actually changed our brand name and launched, which is powered by Salesforce Commerce Cloud, three weeks before COVID hit. So it was in February. And at that time we were starting to execute on our new B2B strategy and then suddenly overnight people were working from home. And so fortunately we had a business and a technology platform that allow us to pivot our efforts and resources very quickly. We saw a major demand, as you said, a major demand for work from home products.

So people really wanted to upgrade their home workspace. You know, leaning over the kitchen table or a hunching at the couch just wasn’t cutting it anymore. And so to help enable that for the first time we issued our first online promo code, to really try to capture that work from home business. And so that actually included a promo code for the public, as well as for corporations like Google, who gave their employees a stipend to create a home office. And one of the products we’ve really seen the highest demand for is our electric standing desk.

And so people, really quickly figured out that they miss their standing desks that they had at work. And so our web store was actually seeing a 300% increase in that product over the prior period during the COVID pandemic.

Drinker: That’s incredible. Yeah. I mean, like I was saying earlier with my search to try to figure out, to be a little bit healthier at home standing desks for the first thing I pivoted towards. And I know after seeing all my colleagues on chat, that I’m not alone in that venture. So I’m glad that’s turned into increased sales for you all. And I hope that continues. Speaking of, kind of the customer experience that we’re talking about before, how is Vari re-imagining customer experience in this digital first world?

Belote: So we continue to leverage our commerce and marketing platforms to drive our B2C channel and our work from home programs. But we’re additionally working to expand our capabilities and really drive our longer term strategy around B2B. And so to help enable that we actually most recently purchased Pardot to help improve our ability to generate and nurture high quality B2B leads for our sales team. And then in addition, we’re really working to continue to enhance our CRM platforms across board to improve our team’s ability to more efficiently deliver the world-class customer experience that we’re known for.

Drinker: Yeah. And again, we’ve talked a lot about some of our other trailblazers who have been doing the same and putting instead of kind of product at the center, putting the customer at the center to make sure you’re rallying around that customer and ensuring they’re getting the right customer experiencing using the kind of technology that we have on the backend. And maybe a different approach, which is kind of the employee at the center. How is the role of your employees changed during this pandemic?

Belote: Yeah, so our CEO’s rallying cry through this time has really been that we all have to keep rowing until the wind catches our sails. So that’s kind of been his motto, as we’ve kind of gone through this period. And so everyone’s really embraced that mentality along with really continuing to live by our core values. Some of those key values are embrace change, be a team player, and believe it’s possible. And so the combination of those things has really helped us work through these very challenging times. And we really had to lean into our values to really power through this storm.

Denman: How has the pandemic changed your global strategy and vision, and what’s next? What does success look like for you all?

Belote: Yes, our strategy stays the same. So really our aim is to become the go-to brand for flexible workspace solutions. So we want to really help individuals stay active throughout their day and help high-growth businesses offer their employees a flexible workspace. You know, various spaces is evidence of this evolution that we’ve gone through as a company. It’s a very important endeavor for us as it allows us to showcase how well our products and services work in this model.

And so we see tremendous growth potential in the Vari space model, and we will continue to look for opportunities to offer high growth businesses fully furnished workspaces with those world-class amenities and flexible lease terms in markets across the globe.

Drinker: Yeah. I love the expansion of the businesses that makes such a natural kind of sense to expand, especially in these needs as there’s kind of these office needs as well as kind of home office needs. I have one more question for you as we’re kind of wrapping up. Any advice for other brands that you have during this time?

Belote: I think my biggest piece of advice, maybe from a technology perspective, is really that you pick your technology vendors wisely and really treat them as partners versus just vendors. And so we’ve really established an amazing partnership with Salesforce. Our Salesforce account team has been unbelievable, not only during a rollout, but as we continue to help innovate and maximize the value we’re getting out of the platform. So really just building that partnership where we all win together kind of mentality.

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