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Rediscovering Passion and Joy With Rustan’s



For years, e-commerce platforms enabled new and innovative ways in which the retail and fashion industries might operate. Thanks to websites like Amazon and Ebay, customers get a sense of ease by just clicking on items they want, and waiting for their purchases to arrive at their doorsteps.

Here in the Philippines, e-commerce players such as Lazada and Shopee are on the top of the go-to sites, based on a report by integrated solutions provider Janio. The home confinement brought about by the coronavirus pandemic boosted the idea that going digital is the future of retail.

According to Senen M. Perlada, director of the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB), businesses should look at marketspaces, like online platforms, more than geographic spaces during and after the pandemic.

“If there’s one thing that the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) taught us, it’s that we can explore the possibilities in the digital space,” says Perlada. “We are now driven to accelerate our digital transformation. To thrive during this time, businesses should strengthen their online-to-offline platforms. Customers can buy online and then just have their orders for pickup or delivery.”


Photo from @rustansph

For retail establishments, physical stores still have a significant role in providing great shopping experiences. Since the modified enhanced community quarantine, retail establishments have been opening their doors to consumers, thereby helping their employees earn a living after months of stay at home.
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.


Donnie with his wife Crickette Tantoco

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.

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.

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 [] 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 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.

Rustan’s Makati and Shangri-La are open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Alabang from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Meanwhile, Rustan’s Gateway and Cebu will open on June 12, with daily operating hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information about the safety procedures and their latest promos, visit or follow @rustansph on Instagram and Facebook.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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