SM Prime sees e-commerce more as a challenge than a threat


(Source: The Manila Times | 1 March 2016)

The Philippines’ biggest retail property developer is not at all bothered by the emergent e-commerce, not even considering the latter as a latent competitor but more as a shot in the arm.

“I am very bullish about that—I mean, SM’s commercial buildings and shopping centers,” SM Prime Holdings Inc. President Hans Sy told reporters Tuesday on a sidelines of the SM Group of Companies’ turnover of a P400-million building to the new University of the Philippines campus in the uptown Bonifacio Global City.

SM Prime Holdings is the SM Group’s property arm, the biggest integrated property developer now in the Philippines, and the builder of about a hundred malls and shopping centers all over the Philippines.

Sy said the SM Group had anticipated the growth of e-commerce, noting that more shops have been going online.

In response, SM rebranded its ubiquitous SM Department Stores into SM Stores, to make its brick-and-mortar business more lifestyle-oriented, given the emergence of the now influential millennial market.

Sy said such rebranding strategy would attract consumers to visit the malls instead of shopping online.

“Even if there’s e-commerce, you cannot see people just staying in the house, so they definitely gotta do something and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Sy said.

He cited the current transformation of the SM Mall of Asia as an example of the firm’s lifestyle mall initiative.

“We are going to introduce a lot of lifestyle features,” Sy said.

He clarified that the firm does not see e-commerce as a threat to its retail business.

“No, we don’t look at it as a threat,” he stressed. “When we see these things, we look at it as a challenge and we find means and ways to go around the challenges. We do not let it top us or slow us down. We have to evolve into these things. That’s the reality.”

— By Catherine Talavera


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