WITHOUT Stores Specialists Group (SSI) Inc., avid fans of luxury products would still have to fly out of the country for a taste of clothes from some of the world’s favorite brands, such as Marc Jacobs, Prada, and Tod’s. This year — as the SSI group celebrates 30 years in the business with a new campaign called The Curated Life — it aims to make shopping even easier with the launch of a website and an app.
“Today — three fulfilling decades later, the SSI Group remains the market leader with over 100 global brands, a retail network of over 600 stores nationwide and a growing e-commerce portfolio. Maintaining our thrust to bring the best of the world to the Philippines, the SSI Group continues to refine the art of Philippine lifestyle retailing as the #1 specialty retailer in the country,” said SSI Group, Inc. president Anton Huang during the SSI 30th anniversary media lunch.
“Celebrating our 30th year this 2018, we are poised to enhance the lives of every Filipino as we continue to deliver our well-curated range of specialty and lifestyle concepts. We celebrate this milestone with The Curated Life — a campaign that seeks to inspire, enable, indulge and rally our customers to live a life well-lived — a life well-curated,” he said.
SSI began in 1988 as the retail arm of the Rustan’s Group of Companies, founded by couple Gliceria Rustia Tantoco and Bienvenido Tantoco. Rustan’s became known in the late 1950s as the country’s leading luxury retailer. Today, the family’s second and third generations run the scene, and continue to bring in some of the world’s favorite brands to the Philippines. SSI’s first brands were Nine West, Episode, Marks & Spencer (then known as St. Michael), Lacoste, and Ferragamo.
The company’s anniversary promos were announced via a dinner and a fashion show, featuring many of SSI’s franchised brands last week in Shangri-La at The Fort.
SSI will be relaunching its website, ssilife.com.ph in October. While it will of course, serve as a retail channel, it will also include lifestyle tips and other features to help consumers make better choices. The site will have three categories — Fashion, Beauty, and Home — and will feature the latest collections, behind-the-scenes highlights from exclusive shows, skincare and makeup how-to videos featuring local influencers, and guides on home and lifestyle.
The new thrust towards online retail will also see the launch of the company’s My SSI Life App in August which will allow users to earn points every time they shop, plus feature trends, promos, and perks.
As Mr. Huang told The Philippine Star’s Millet M. Mananquil during the launch: “We’re one of the most active retailers increasing their presence in e-commerce. If shopping online is the practical and convenient solution to shoppers’ time-pressured life these days, then we are providing that. Online shopping is still quite small today in the Philippines, but that said, as far as the SSI e-commerce websites are concerned — such as those for Beauty Bar, Lacoste and Payless — we’re growing quite healthily and the sales are growing rapidly.”
The thrust towards digital seems relevant: in a stock market disclosure in April, SSI reported a net income rise of 19% as it shrunk its brick-and-mortar retail operations from 138,852 sqm. to 129,486 sqm., as well as dropping a few brands in its portfolio, reducing the count to 108 brands from a previous reported number of 114 in 2016.
“Resilient consumer demand combined with the Group’s strengthened store network and increased operating efficiencies were the drivers of the Group’s turnaround in 2017. We expect that these same factors will continue to drive our growth in 2018,” Mr. Huang was quoted in a statement as saying.
According to BusinessWorld’s story on the disclosure in April, SSI now operates six e-commerce websites to ride the e-commerce wave that has triggered the closure and bankruptcy of major retailers in the United States.
For this year, the SSI Group is partnering with Citibank. With the Spend Anywhere campaign, Citibank cardholders get P500 shopping credits valid at all SSI Group stores for every P10,000 they spend using their Citibank card from July to September. When the holiday season rolls in, more rewards await the cardholders as instant shopping credits of up to P30,000 will be given at SSI Group stores.
The partnership continues with the Big Fashion Sale featuring SSI Group brands on Aug. 15 to 30 at Greenbelt and Sept. 3 to 10 at Glorietta, as well as exclusive shopping events from July to December.
Citibank customers can also shop with deferred payment schemes of up to 24 months at select SSI Group brands through the Love to Shop installment program which runs until May 2019. — JLG