Home Arts & Leisure Making Christmas shopping easier with personal shoppers

Making Christmas shopping easier with personal shoppers

RUSTAN’S just might be a guiding star for gifts this season, announcing store renovations and an expanded personal shopper service during a press conference last week.

Rustan Commercial Corp. Bienvenido “Donnie” Tantoco III appeared on a Zoom call on Oct. 6 with a portrait of his grandfather and namesake, Rustan’s co-founder former ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco behind him. The senior Mr. Tantoco passed away earlier this year at the age of 100. (https://www.bworldonline.com/rustans-founder-bienvenido-tantoco-sr-100/)

“How truly wonderful it is to be together again. I believe that after all that has happened, all of whom we have lost these past 20 months, togetherness like this… one as real but also as imperfect as the family and community that is gathered together like this… is something we will not take for granted for the rest of our days,” said Mr. Tantoco.

Since the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic precludes most physical get-togethers, Rustan’s has adapted by offering contact-free shopping and other services that will help its customers arrange for celebrating Christmas with family and friends despite quarantine restrictions.

First, Dina Tantoco, Marketing and Communications Manager for Rustan Commercial Corp., introduced the expansion of their personal shopper program.

The Gift List Management service allows customers to send their gift list to Rustan’s personal shoppers who can look for the gift choices, assist in the transaction process, and set the delivery to the buyer’s or the recipients’ houses.

Rustan’s also offers Assisted Shopping services, in which customers can schedule an appointment with a store personnel to assist them during their physical store visit. On the other hand, patrons can also opt to go on a virtual store tour, which allows them to view items found at Rustan’s stores via video call with a personal shopper. Right now, Ms. Tantoco says that they currently have more than 117 personal shoppers. One media guest on the Zoom call had tried out the service and explained how a personal shopper helped her choose a Christmas tree via a video call.

Rustan’s also unveiled its Christmas Village, a one-stop shop located at the 5th Level of Rustan’s Makati with Christmas trees, ornaments, lights, wreaths, garlands, pillow covers, table napkins, and other holiday-themed items. Rustan’s Flower Shop also includes its wide selection of festive décor. The specialty shop also offers food boxes, made in partnership with Gourmet Garage, and Marks & Spencer. Items from brands Theo & Philo, Ferrero Rocher, and Moet & Chandon will also be available for purchase. The Christmas Village is now open until Dec. 31.

Mr. Tantoco acknowledged the boom of online shopping since quarantine restrictions were put in place was a challenge. “We kind of stumbled,” he said, in the beginning. But there have been improvements to their online shopping infrastructure, where he was proud to say that 95% of purchases were able to be delivered in two days; and some of them were delivered to customers in less than 24 hours. “He fixed it,” he said, speaking about his cousin, Rustan’s Vice-President for Store Planning and Expansion, Michael Huang. “We have a very, very good system of logistics and fulfillment right now.”

“We’re not going to stay still… we’re going to try to be better,” he said.

Rustan’s Makati, the company’s flagship store, is currently undergoing renovations. The renovated first floor will be ready by the end of next year with the rest of the floors to follow. Mr. Tantoco explained that his aunt, Zenaida Tantoco, chair and CEO of the Rustan Group, and Michael Huang are leading the renovations. “[S]he’s making the store much more experiential. It’s the experience that is going to bring you out,” he said. — Joseph L. Garcia