With the Covid-19 pandemic weighing heavily on global economies, Philippine companies are faced with the challenge of reinventing corporate norms and finding new ways of doing business.
For SMIC, serving and adapting to customers’ evolving needs through innovative solutions that blend the strength of the brick-and-mortar business with digital platforms is fundamental.
SMIC President and CEO Frederic C. DyBuncio says SM looks at its e-commerce initiatives and strategies from two perspectives — direct participant and service provider.
“We continue to adapt, innovate and build our capabilities to respond to the new realities,” DyBuncio says. “It is crucial, especially during these times, for us to continue to be here to serve our customers and stakeholders with new and enhanced solutions for their convenience and safety.”
As a direct participant, SM’s existing online shopping site ShopSM and its vibrant presence on several e-commerce platforms, such as Lazada and Shopee for THE SM STORE, allow access to a wide customer base and diverse array of essential and non-essential products.
As a service provider, SM has introduced mall fulfillment services, namely take-out and delivery, and personal shopper Call to Deliver, THE SM STORE’s branded service, allows customers to order essentials by telephone from select stores and have these items delivered to their respective locations. To support its tenants, SM promotes the stores, shops and restaurants located in its malls through personal shopper and concierge services that enable customers to call in their orders to the desired store, shop or restaurant. Purchases can then be delivered through a wide array of delivery app partners and mall-initiated delivery services, or picked up by customers waiting safely in their cars at mall curbside pick-up points.
“We continue to adapt, innovate and build our capabilities“
SM has also launched the “Take Out and Delivery at SM” community on the Viber instant messaging service app. With over 170,000 members nationwide, it largely supports SM’s food tenants through partnerships with food elivery apps like GrabFood, Lalafood, and FoodPanda. Logistics support plays a key role as SM provides warehousing and last-mile delivery using the different logistics companies within its group. Digital payment is fulfilled through its banks and an e-wallet service created by SM’s joint venture with GrabPay in the Philippines.
Broad response to the pandemic
Since the start of the pandemic, SM has ensured regular compensation for its workforce. The company has also done repeated rounds of rapid Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for its employees and agency workers, so far covering more than 140,000 individuals across its supermarkets, retail stores, malls, and residential and property companies. SM tests regularly to protect its workforce and ensure the continuous delivery of its services to customers.
Outside of its organization, and to help the healthcare sector in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, SM Foundation has donated over 300 million pesos (US$6 million) to pay for personal protective and medical equipment, PCR testing, and intensive care unit ventilators to meet the needs of some 150 hospitals and health facilities nationwide. In addition, SM contributed 100 million pesos (US$2 million) through Project Ugnayan, a private sector charity, and Caritas, the Catholic Church’s charity arm, to urban poor families impacted by the lockdown. SM Foundation likewise distributed thousands of Kalinga food packs to indigent families in sectors critically affected by the pandemic’s lockdown.
SM has also contributed to the government’s Covid-19 mitigation efforts by building emergency quarantine facilities for Covid-19 patients at the Air Force General Hospital in Pasay City and at the V. Luna and Camp Crame hospitals in Quezon City.
In partnership with the Philippine Red Cross and the national government, SM transformed the SM Mall of Asia Arena into a mega swabbing facility.
And for its tenants, SM Supermalls has waived 11 billion pesos (US$226 million) in rentals, as of end June 2020, to support the continuity of operations of tens of thousands micro, small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the lockdown.
Moreover, SM Supermalls, along with Farmers Produce, participated in Kasama ng SM, a campaign to help farmers sell directly to SM customers, local food producers, and 180 RestoPH restaurant members.
A partnership between SM Supermalls and local government units called Wheels-On-The-Go and SM Riders Program in the Central and South Luzon areas tapped job-seeking construction workers, repatriated overseas Filipinos, and tricycle and jeepney drivers as partner personal shoppers and delivery riders.
SM Supermalls also supported the launch of BUYanihan, a rallying campaign coined from Bayanihan or the Filipino spirit of co-operation, which, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Association of the Filipino Franchisers, encourages shoppers to buy local products and from local suppliers.
With the broad response that it has received from its customers, stakeholders and communities, and the unwavering efforts of both the government and the private sector, SM is optimistic it will emerge more resilient from the Covid-19 crisis.
DyBuncio states: “While the current environment has been most challenging, we continue to be optimistic that our company’s strong financial position, along with the untiring spirit and determination of all, will allow us to lead a resurgence after this crisis.”
This article was originally featured in The Asset, September 2020 Issue