SSI Opens the Slickest Online Hub for its Universe of Luxury and Lifestyle Brands
Anton Huang, president and CEO of the SSI Group, admits it took some convincing for luxury brands to hitch their wagon to an online portal that is not their own and also will house other labels, luxury or otherwise.
Luxury companies are understandably very reluctant about ceding control of its products and image, but here we are: Trunc.ph, the virtual hub for all things beautiful and dreamy, has opened its doors last week, just in time for the holiday shopping rush and the biggest sale week in the country. What did the trick was the website itself—a slick creation that has been configured as a universe of many online boutiques—and once decision-makers around the world saw its previews, Huang reports, “It was a yes.”
Polo Ralph Lauren
Trunc is the first website in the region to house several luxury brands in one digital space.
E-commerce is the natural progression for the SSI Group, which, like most retail companies, has been fast-tracking the growth of its online presence in the past few years and even months, as in the case of Trunc, whose development reportedly began 18 months ago.
In a virtual presentation for the shiny, new site, Huang points out how SSI has already established a solid online footprint with 10 dot coms (zara.com/ph, lacoste.com.ph, lush.com.ph, beautybar.com.ph, among others) in the three years. He also reports how its e-commerce business has experienced 400-percent year-to-date growth and now contributes to eight percent of the group’s total business. And so now: “We've taken it upon ourselves to create an entirely new brand-centric marketplace where we are able to house the 100 brands in our portfolio,” says the CEO, who was broadcasting from his light-filled office.
But while SSI is not a novice to adding to cart and delivering to your doorstep, Trunc ventures into unchartered territory as its scope is bigger (more than 7,500 products at launch from 100 brands!), operations complex, and aspirations grander. Huang says it accomplishes a first for the region. To be exact, the Filipino website is now the first in Southeast Asia to house luxury brands like Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Givenchy, Loewe, and more in one digital space. (Burberry, Ferragamo, Tod’s, Jimmy Choo, and Hogan are live. Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, and Loewe, says the company, will arrive this month and next).
Trunc is an expansive universe of 100 brands.
To accomplish the feat, SSI built a website that lives up to the combined prestige of all those brands. For luxury, that means a focus on, not only on a smooth shopping experience, one without glitches or hitches, but also a private one, akin to a leisurely trip to the glittering physical shops on Greenbelt 4 back when the world was not in chaos.
Natasha Zurnamer, the global digital retail consultant who has been tapped to help put together the website, points out how Trunc makes each brand a hero by creating individual boutiques within the mega-site. And so, if you are on the Ferragamo online shop looking for a Vara Bow pump for the (maybe angry) wife, you feel like you’re on the Ferragamo website itself and nowhere else. This unique shop-in-shop concept was something requested by the luxury brands, she notes.
The e-commerce site offers a smooth, all-in-one shopping experience.
Much like the 6,000 doors in SSI’s portfolio, Trunc is a shopping universe dotted with galaxies and a multitude of stars. The simplest way to explain the online shop is this: There is the main landing page (trunc.ph) where most everything lives and from it, you can navigate to three dedicated spaces: Trunc Show, which houses luxury labels, PowderRoom by Trunc, which fulfills the robust demand for skincare and beauty (think Beauty Bar and Lush), and Trunc at Home (Pottery Barn, West Elm) for your new occupation of improving your interior spaces.
Trunc Show and PowderRoom have direct links on the top left of the website, while Trunc at Home can be accessed via the menu on the banner (fourth from left). All that means is there are various options for navigation or many ways that you can buy, say, a sneaker, whether it is going directly to the Bally shop (via Trunc Show) and selecting the Glendon or typing in “sneaker” in the search bar on the home page and then getting a slew of suggestions after pressing enter.
Zurnamer, who joined the virtual call from Australia, further describes the navigation is simple and the presentation of the website, which is doused in black and white and filled with breathy spaces, as clean and elegant. In other words, though this is a ginormous affair, you’ll find what you desire and, more important, get all the information that you need. “It’s the most beautiful and most thoughtful website in the region,” she says.
Trunc does it best to offer the same service as SSI’s physical stores.
One more important thing to note about Trunc is how SSI sees the big online move, which, according to Huang, is “not really a migration from physical to digital.” For him, the shop and the website are one and the same, with each part of the other and both providing rich options for you, the shopper.
“We give our customers the opportunity to browse online and buy at the store or just buy online with no hassle,” he says. Huang describes a scenario where you might look at the virtual catalog on Trunc, zero in on a couple of winners, and drop by the store for the final purchase. Or, you know, just be brave and commit to the purchase on the website.
And when a question about finding the right size of a shoe or a shirt arises—the most common problem an online shopper encounters since he can’t touch, feel, or fit a garment—Huang once more turns to the replication of the in-store experience with the help of Trunc’s live chat found at the bottom right of every page. “Our aim is to provide the same customer service and experience,” he reiterates. How much this setup would succeed would depend on the knowledge of the associate on the line and your ability to ask the right questions. Let us know if it works.
In any case, Zurnamer shares the generous delivery policies of Trunc, pointing out how the luxury products are insured to assuage your fears of buying something so expensive online and that returns (in case you are not really a small) are free of charge within 30 days. Right now, we’re eyeing a pair of leather sandals for quarantine life or maybe we’ll go for that rattan swivel chair just to be safe.
Another good thing about finally being able to shop all of SSI’s brands online is that you can park your choices in your cart overnight and see if you still feel strongly about buying them the next day.