SM malls reinvent, eye ‘corona’ defeat

photograph courtesy of Vivienne Tan/instagram In an entry in Instagram, Vivienne Tan shares a photo of her, father Lucio and mother Carmen on a vacation.

What the country’s biggest mall operator is adamant about is ensuring customers and tenants that the mall is a safe place despite the pandemic.

Preparing the SM Mall chain for the new normal, its stores nationwide will put priority on the campaign for safe malling and engaging the company’s resources to contribute to the early end of the coronavirus disease 2019 crisis in the country.

SM Supermalls senior vice president for marketing Jonjon San Agustin said in a virtual talk with Daily Tribune that what the country’s biggest mall operator is adamant about is ensuring customers and tenants that the mall is a safe place despite the pandemic.

“We have repurposed some of our staff as safety malling personnel. We walk the talk in safe malling. We want to communicate the mall is a safe place for family, for instance in seating people and, if needed, contact tracing.”
Corporate social responsibility campaigns continue such as providing isolation centers in different universities in Metro Manila, according to San Agustin.

The malls will have to adapt to shifts in customer behavior, nonetheless. “Whereas before it is a mortal sin for us to push take out, now we have to innovate and come out with omnichannel options such as offering SM Malls through an online mobile application,” he added.

“The group had to reinvent itself, take a bold move and recognize that consumer behavior will change,” he explained.

Vaccine hubs

The biggest undertaking of the company, at the moment, is the vaccination campaign in which it tied up with local government units in offering the malls as inoculation centers
The program prioritizes the vaccination of health workers, front liners, senior citizens and other priority groups identified by the government.

SM Supermalls President Steven Tan said the SM group is partnering with “as many local government units as possible” to provide mall spaces as venue for vaccination from Luzon to Mindanao.

“We have more than 20 malls as vaccination sites. We started as early as March. Starting next week there will be more such deals in Visayas and Mindanao,” Tan noted
He explained that contributing to improving the health of citizens is now a paramount objective of the SM group.

“Nobody has the playbook, you don’t even know how to go about it. Closing stores for two months, for instance, has never ever happened in the past 50 years or so,” Tan noted.

“We realize that we have to think of the people that depends on the business whether they’re your employees, contractors, suppliers or tenants and from there you plan,” he added.

Tan said vaccination in malls could go on for another 60 to 90 days depending on the availability of the vaccines.