Demystifying Shoemart’s secret hand signals | Inquirer Business

Demystifying Shoemart’s secret hand signals

06:08 PM January 14, 2019

A generation or two of Filipino children would gaze in wonder and amazement at how a box of shoes could drop from a square hole on the store ceiling carrying the perfect pair of shoes for them. It seemed like something straight out of a storybook but try asking a former sales employee of Shoemart who was around in the 1970s to the 1980s and he or she would readily say that this was far from being just a figment of the imagination.

Today, especially on a bustling sale day, the shoe section of the SM STORE can become a whirlwind of shopping activity. But it is no busier than the Shoemart of several decades ago. With SM’s earlier shoe stores spanning a few thousand square meters, these stores were easily jam-packed with customers. Orders for shoes could easily get lost in translation in the cacophony of voices: sizes, colors and stock numbers that floated around the store.

Technology now has enabled commercial transactions to be fulfilled with interconnected devices, systems and processes intended to deliver fast and reliable service. In the 1970s and 1980s, what was needed to promptly fulfill customer orders and deliver equally reliable service was a lot of creativity and ingenious solutions.

This led the sales staff of Shoemart, back in the day, to devise a resourceful system of communicating orders using a special set of hand signals to help each other to cater to customers’ needs.  The emphasis on efficient customer experiences was at the core of the culture SM founder Henry Sy instituted in Shoemart.


The system was so efficient—and uniquely beautiful and dynamic—that it became iconic and legendary in the retail legacy of SM.


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TAGS: Secret hand signals, ShoeMart, SM store
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