SPECIALTY retailer SSI Group, Inc. is keen on expanding its e-commerce platforms to contribute 20% of its sales within the next few years.

In the company’s annual stockholder’s meeting on Thursday, SSI President Anthony T. Huang said the coronavirus pandemic is pushing the company to adapt to changing consumer habits.

“Our medium-term vision for e-commerce, in terms of its contribution to our total sales, was 20%. And last year, we were at less than 5% of sales… To date, we’re already at around 12-13%… So, we’re definitely well on our way to meeting our medium-term vision of a 20% contribution,” he said.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has put many local businesses to a halt beginning mid-March and left consumers stuck at home, hit the operations of SSI’s brick-and-mortar stores as reflected in its first-half sales.

SSI swung to a net loss of P476.29 million for January to June, reversing its P345.94-million profit in the same period last year. Revenues dropped 49% to P5.04 billion.

SSI is the Philippine retailer of international brands such as Gucci, Prada, Kate Spade, Zara, Marks & Spencer, Gap, Lacoste, Banana Republic, Muji, Lush, TWG, SaladStop, and Shake Shack.

“Beyond the focus on cutting costs and cash generation, and on emphasizing and communicating the health and safety measures in our brick and mortar stores…, the group’s main focus is on accelerating its e-commerce expansion and on innovating new channels…through which we can reach our customers,” Mr. Huang said.

The company has launched an “at-home concierge service” in May to drive sales from loyal customers remotely. In the next two months, SSI will also be launching a multi-brand site that will gather products across SSI’s brands in one place.

“The group will continue to leverage on its unique brand portfolio and resilient customer base,” Mr. Huang said. “As far as the upper market segment is concerned, which has always historically been a more resilient market, I believe that the recovery for that market segment will be quicker.”

Shares in SSI at the stock exchange picked up nine centavos or 7.63% to close at P1.27 each on Thursday. — Denise A. Valdez