While nearly all retail businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, JOANN shows how a company can quickly pivot in the face of disruptions to become more resilient and customer-centric by expanding omnichannel fulfillment capabilities.
As COVID-19 spread and a severe shortage in medical personal protective equipment drew grave concern, JOANN—the nation’s largest fabric retailer—saw demand for materials to make cloth face masks skyrocket. JOANN leaned into this opportunity to help protect healthcare workers, first responders and communities launching its “Make to Give” campaign to encourage mask-making at home. At the same time, in-store traffic sharply declined as broad shelter-in-place orders were instituted across the country.
That demand manifested in the company’s online channel with orders for ship-to-home and “Buy Online, Pickup In Store” (BOPIS) suddenly jumping far beyond the seasonal average. In March, for example, the company saw inventory inquiries online increase up to four times their most recent holiday season peak demand.
The company faced a challenge: How to fulfill extraordinary demand when its primary fulfillment channel—in-store shopping—had suddenly diminished.
But JOANN has been a long-time client of IBM. The company uses IBM’s Sterling Order Management solution to run its order management and fulfillment platform—the same software called “best-in-class” by the retail technology research firm IHL Group.