Personal shoppers, e-commerce driving SSI Group recovery

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 13) — More shoppers have been personally flocking to stores of luxury brands with the relaxation of quarantine rules nationwide, Stores Specialists, Inc. (SSI) group president Anton Huang said.

"Ever since June, when GCQ (general community quarantine) was declared in the NCR (National Capital Region) and in other key cities as well nationwide, we've been seeing a steady increase in our sales in our physical stores," Huang told CNN Philippines' The Exchange With Rico Hizon.

This was reflected in SSI Group's latest disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, where it reported sales of ₱2.3 billion from July to September, a huge jump from the ₱743 million it recorded in the prior quarter.

"I think that bodes well for the rest of the year for as long as the economy continues to open," the executive added.

E-commerce expansion

And for people still opting to stay at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the specialty retailer giant also has online shopping options in place: it has been operating 10 e-commerce sites for the different brands it represents, which include the likes of Gap, Lacoste, and Marks and Spencer.

"That business, inclusive of our sales in third-party marketplaces such as Zalora and Lazada, that business has grown almost 400 percent for us year-to-date," Huang said of the group's e-commerce sector, which it has been expanding for over three years now.

Just this month, the SSI Group has also launched, which Huang described as a "multi-brand marketplace." It offers a wide range of luxury, casual, fast fashion, home and personal care brands.

Personal shopping services

A third-generation Tantoco, Huang says they have always zeroed in on ensuring the company is able to keep serving its customers in the best way possible based on their current shopping preferences.

"I think very early on in the pandemic, that was really our sole focus. Beginning in March, for example, we focused on developing our personal shopping services," he said, noting these account for a "fair amount" of the group's sales.

Among these is The Specialist, a home concierge service which assists customers with their shopping needs along with home deliveries or curbside pick-ups through online communication.

Rustan's Department Store, another brand of SSI Group, also has a program called Personal Shopper On Call in place which helps customers shop from the comforts of their home quicker and easier as well.