In any normal year, events tend to take place in spaces made for them. It was always enjoyable to leave the office for the chance to speak with company heads, and brands, while enjoying the spread of food, accompanied by a glass of wine (or two). In 2021 however, we are still in the midst of the new normal, and occasions like these are usually spent at home, peering at old friends through the computer screen.
One such moment was the chance to have a chat with Megaworld’s Chief Strategy Officer Kevin Tan, who took the time to discuss Megaworld’s operations amidst COVID-19’s debilitating effects on the retail and pandemic industry. Megaworld, for the most part, has found its foothold in withstanding the deluge, thanks to their steps in pioneering township developments. Choices such as integrated design and planned communities have allowed the conglomerate to flourish amidst the panic and challenges of this global health crisis.
Because these design choices have allowed Megaworld to thrive, this allowed them to then switch gears and help keep their retail partners afloat. “The lifeblood of our business is our retail partners. We have put their welfare way ahead of our pursuit for profit as we know that their survival will not only be beneficial for us, but also for their employees and their families especially during these trying times,” said Mr. Tan.
From the first Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) lockdown, Megaworld waived over P2.5 billion in rental fees. This choice, along with extending rental concessions to retail partners helped give them lifeblood. Megaworld also stepped forward and helped give board and lodging provisions, along with free transportation for store employees. This helped protect employees not just from the economic brunt of the pandemic, but from the actual chances of catching the virus.
Key technological innovations include a contactless strategy to address safety concerns, like Viber communities, advance ordering, curbside pickup, and cashless payments through Gcash and PayMaya. Megaworld also launched a new hotline and app for their Lifestyle Malls, a personal shopper service (MEGAN), an automated parking system, and Safety on Track, for customers to enter shops or restaurants with just one single sign-in using a QR code.
To ensure a more accessible and streamlined delivery process, Megaworld developed their homegrown app Pick.A.Roo and launched in August 2020. This became a major force in addressing customer needs and help bought revenue for their retail partners. “Pick.A.Roo aims to help Filipino retailers, especially Megaworld’s retail partners, to smoothly migrate to the digital platform and help them sell and deliver their products online and on-demand,” says Mr. Tan.
These innovations have helped boost Megaworld’s retail sectors. The end of last year saw openings in Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, like the biggest branches of top dining chains like Wildflour Cafe + Bakery in Uptown Bonifacio and Mary Grace in Newport Mall. Megaworld foresees more stores opening their branches in 2021.
With the arrival of the vaccines (of which Megaworld has purchased a large amount for donations towards frontliners), Mr. Tan says that all these innovations are to stay and will coexist with whatever happens in the future. When asked about any contingency plans in case the situation with the new COVID-19 variant worsens, Mr. Tan says for Megaworld, the company continues to maintain the highest health standards. “We do a lot of coordination with our constituents: from office tenants to management. One thing that came out of the pandemic is that companies have become more transparent. This connection with all the different people within our community has solidified and become stronger. This has played a big part in averting any breakout. We are better equipped now to handle this second pandemic if it does come,” he said.