Retail Report: Unified commerce makes every moment count
As an industry intrinsically tied to technological evolution, cinema is no stranger to disruption. Time and time again, traditional value chains, business continuity strategies, and customer experiences have performed dramatic character arcs in order to adapt to a tempestuous market.
Having remained at the forefront of cinema innovation in Europe for over twenty years, Belgian cinema chain Kinepolis is especially well rehearsed in finding new ways to keep crowds flooding into theatres. As part of a strategy to improve operational efficiency, Kinepolis teamed up with Adyen to consolidate all its European payment systems into a single platform. This partnership has since helped the company to streamline operations while expanding , and at the same time preserving its commitment to customer experience.
We sat down with Bjorn Van Reet, Chief Information Officer of Kinepolis, and Eline De Muynck, Group Treasury Manager, to investigate the company’s successful rise to international stardom, its Unified Commerce payments debut, and what’s up next in production.
The roots of Kinepolis stretch back to the 1960s when Albert Bert decided to add a second screen to his family's Majestic cinema in Harelbeke, Belgium, followed by the opening of more cinemas with more screens each time. Parallel to this, the Claeys family (led by Albert Bert’s sister-in-law) also started opening multiplex cinemas across Belgium. In 1988, the two partnered to open the world’s first megaplex in Brussels. Nine years later the two illustrious cinema families would merge their operations to create Kinepolis. The group now has 110 multiplexes across Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Spain, the US, and Canada.
Kinepolis has maintained a track record of purposeful innovation, even in the face of massive industry change. The focus of its innovation? Agility. The kind that can tackle disruption head-on, turn challenges into opportunities, and drive sustainable growth through quality customer experiences.
“You just have to look at our company history to see how important innovation has been to our progress,” says Van Reet. “We’re trying to build an agile organization.”
For Van Reet, this meant cutting complexity wherever possible. After years of steady growth, Kinepolis had found itself in a tangle of different suppliers, payment platforms, and operational systems.
In Europe alone, Kinepolis has 537 manned points of sale (POS) and 368 kiosks. On top of this, the company originally had a different payment provider in every country, all of whom required different levels of governance. Van Reet says this setup made for overly complex and inefficient operations, especially as Kinepolis was growing quickly.
“One of my goals when I came into Kinepolis was to simplify our IT systems,” explains Van Reet. “I wanted to get the basics right so we could build a foundation that would allow us to grow.”
In a first phase “offline” roll out, Kinepolis replaced all payment terminals in their European cinemas. In the second phase, all countries made the switch to Adyen for their online transactions. The next step will be to activate Google Pay™️ and Apple Pay online.
“Technology has allowed us to stay agile...If we wanted to change something we’d need to make about seven different phone calls. Now we can just make two calls.”
Consolidating all systems into one centralized platform enabled Kinepolis to lay a solid foundation of simplification and efficiency. From there, expansion was an easy next step.
The new system allows Kinepolis to embrace unified commerce with a complete overview of all customer payment transactions. The benefits of this can be felt company wide, from Customer Care to the Treasury team.
“The technology Adyen provides is great for our customer experience,” says Van Reet.
If a customer has ever bought a film ticket online, for example, and that same person buys a large popcorn at the cinema, this purchase history is recorded and linked to their payment details. This data can help inform future customized offers, such as a ticket and popcorn bundle deal.
Soon, Kinepolis will offer customers a one click payment option, whereby payment details are automatically remembered for future online payments.
“The vision of the founder still stands,” says Van Reet. “Giving people a good night out, giving them the ultimate movie experience...Today, different types of technology all contribute to that overall experience.”
“Payments should be stable, reliable and fast. Adyen is a very important piece in our customer journey. If everything is seamless, if you don’t notice it, then we’re doing a good job.”
“Simplifying the whole environment was key,” he says. “With our online and offline becoming one, it was easier to work with and easier for our customers to use.”
According to Eline De Muynck, Group Treasury Manager of Kinepolis, the Adyen platform also makes it easier for her team to maintain a comprehensive overview of all transactions at all times.
“Adyen has made sure we can monitor all transactions in real time on a clear and easy-to-use platform, and it works for both offline and online payments,” she says.
“This helps us to know a lot sooner if there are discrepancies between the expected revenues and the actual movements. Adyen's transparent pricing structure then also helps us to optimally manage the various bank charges.”
“The fact that Adyen is an all-in-one platform simplifies the number of contracts we need to manage. And what's more, communicating with the Adyen helpdesk is always quick and easy. They assist us in case of issues and think with us to find solutions to challenges.”
The process of simplification with Adyen facilitates Kinepolis’ expansion to new markets, where the buying process and customer journey can vary greatly. Local payment methods need to be integrated quickly and easily.
“We have a payments partner that’s inspiring us to innovate,” says De Muynck.
“Activating additional payments for us is now very easy.”
According to De Muynck, having all systems on one platform, with just one provider, also cuts operating costs in addition to saving the company time and resources spent managing multiple systems.
“We’re always looking for ways to lower the cost of staying agile. We want to do more with less money and in less time,” agrees Van Reet. “That way we can free up money to use on new innovations.”
“We all benefit from economies of scale, and in this case, we couldn’t do that with different local providers...We’ll continue to integrate Adyen for sure.”
In the face of disruption, whether it’s new technology, a new competitor, or a global pandemic, every business must decide what to hold onto, and what to change. Kinepolis is a star example of a company that has preserved its dedication to delivering entertaining, effortless customer experiences by knowing when and how to leverage innovation in a meaningful and scalable way.
That’s all, folks!
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