Looking Back at 30 Years of SSI: Curating a Life Worth Experiencing
June 18, 2018
Store Specialists, Inc. invites shoppers to never settle, to stand out and spend on what matters as they celebrate 30 years.
Two long tables stretched across the Bonifacio Hall A on the fourth floor of Shangri-la at the Fort. Digital rendering spread the length of the table, intimating something of what was to come. Store Specialists, Inc. Group was marking 30 years as the leading specialty retailer in the country with an anniversary dinner and launching a digital space to further enhance the premium retail landscape.
Lunch Time Lessons
SSI President Anton Huang, who oversees a portfolio of more than 100 brands, was buoyant as he expressed his sentiments on the milestone. He acknowledged the pioneering spirit of his grandparents Ambassador Bienvenido and Glecy Tantoco, who established Rustan’s and brought local the luxury retail experience to local consumers. SSI built upon the legacy of his forebears and expanded the offerings with fast fashion brands as well as food, home, beauty and original concepts. Today, the company counts a network of over 600 stores of curated brands.
Anton, who like the rest of the second, third and now fourth generation Tantocos, learned the business early. His first assignment was handling Paco Rabanne fragrances for the Rustan’s Department Store. His education in retail happened well before that job, learning from conversations with the Tantoco matriarch over lunch while he was still a young boy in his teens.
By the time he assumed responsibility for SSI, he had become attuned to the market, which was crucial in steering the expansion of the company. After three decades, he steers the widest range of specialty and lifestyle concepts into yet another avenue to address new markets, particularly the millennials.
Spending on What Matters
The 30th anniversary was occasion to launch “The Curated Life” campaign that captures the evolution of the SSI Group into a true purveyor of luxuries and necessities. “It’s never about settling, always about standing out, creating a life that’s worth experiencing and spending on things that matter.” An invitation is extended to shoppers to define personal styles by choosing the brands and products that express their lifestyle.
Besides the stores, shoppers now have the option to go online and make purchases on the ssilife.com.ph website. Another technological facility now available is the My SSI Life APP that will be available in August of this year. App users will generate points every time they shop the featured collections online.
The SSI Group also partnered with Citibank to enhance the shopping experience of their clients through the “Spend Anywhere” campaign. Purchases made with a Citibank credit card gives shoppers P500 shopping credits with every P10,000 purchase from July till September 2018. A “Love to Shop” from June 2018 to May 2019 affords installment and deferred payment schemes for as long as 24 months. Other shopping treats have been lined up at Greenbelt and Glorietta in August and September.
Anton is grateful for the continued patronage of the SSI brands that may well be an indication of the strong customer service that the SSI culture adheres. It is also necessary that the stores meet the desires and demands of their clientele, he says, by stocking the desired merchandise. Another important factor for their retail stability is the team of people who service their customers.
They are now reaching out to younger markets through events, technology and brands that cater to millennials. SSI is adapting to the changing retail landscapes, balancing digital platforms with traditional media in the marketing efforts. People still come to the stores with pages from magazines to show what they want to buy. “Print is more focused,” he says.
Retail itself will be a combination of both e-commerce and the actual shopping experience of entering a store, holding the merchandise and looking at the display. SSI positions to provide the experience of whatever suits the customer through the changing times and evolving tastes.