‘Our Stores Are Destinations’–Donnie Tantoco

Photo from Rustans FB page

By: Manila Bulletin

Welcoming customers back is a priority of one of the country’s retail giants, Rustan’s Department Store. Donnie Tantoco, president of Rustan Commercial Corp., chats with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle on how they put health measures at the center of their new business operations, and why walking inside a retail store is still an experience that will delight many Filipino shoppers.

Many retail establishments opened the moment Metro Manila was placed under MECQ. Why did it take some time for Rustan’s to open its stores again?

We opened later because of concern for the safety of our employees, and because we wanted to make sure we reopened a store that is a safe and joyful place to shop in. During ECQ, it was the policy of our chairman and CEO, Nedy Tantoco, to make sure that almost all our employees were working from home. Hence, the preparations to reopen the stores began only when Metro Manila was placed under MECQ. She and the team worked day and night, meticulously making sure that all the safety protocols are in place. This also meant that all the people across functions needed to be fully briefed and trained. When it comes to safety, she did not want us to rush in a way that she felt would make us compromise it.

Additionally, she wants the experience of shopping in Rustan’s to be seamless and even inspiring, especially given the times. She wants us to be a trusted safe place to be outside of your home. Amid all the protocols, she still wants shopping in Rustan’s to be joyful and efficient.

With many retail businesses going digital and on delivery service, do you think Filipinos would still enjoy the experience given by department stores?

Absolutely. Digital and e-commerce will most definitely play a larger role now and going forward. We were happy that we launched [rustans.com] August of last year. We now have the advantage of having both physical stores and a digital one. To be successful, Rustan’s needs to accelerate plans to evolve from department stores into an omni-channel store.

Online is crucial in order to offer the most contactless, most convenient way for Rustan’s to fulfill our customers’ needs. But still, there are other aspirations that can only be fulfilled by our department stores. Our stores are destinations for experiences, where we can fully engage your senses. Our stores can be your oases, your sanctuaries, your happy places. Inside our stores is where we can fulfill your passion, your curiosity, your desire for discovery. If you want convenience and ease, shop at rustans.com. If you want to be inspired, engaged, you go to our department store. Our online and department store work together to help you give you what you want, how you want it, and when you want it.

What lesson should the retail industry learn from this pandemic?

We need to be more customer-driven and customer-caring than ever before. We need to serve our customers in good times and bad times. We need to be one of those parts of their live that are loyal to them in a steadfast and constant way. To serve them well, we also need to have agility.


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