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Reinventing gift-giving

/ 05:01 AM October 29, 2021

Tech-driven, customized system —CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away the personal touch in doing business, with customers confined to their own homes because of the limitations to mobility imposed by the government to curb the spread of the dreaded virus. But one homegrown company hopes to offer solutions to boost engagement between brands and their clients even with a screen coming in between them.

“Now, more than ever, gifting becomes important. Gifting humanizes business especially at a time of lack of human contact. It is one way to show that you value your client’s or employee’s relationship even if you do not see them,” Sheree Gotuaco, CEO of Stylist in Pocket (SIP) Technologies Inc., told the Inquirer.

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SIP is currently in the business of selling uniforms and corporate gifts. But when it was established in 2016, it initially offered solutions to concerns on curation, data, merchandise and technology in the business-to-clients market. It provided free curation and styling to women, “doctors, lawyers, executives, who all have to look good but don’t have the time nor the eye to shop,” Gotuaco shared.

A few years into her enterprise, Gotuaco started serving the business-to-business market “due to the insistent demand from our clients.” This led to what it has become now—maintaining a steady pool of patrons with SIP’s meticulously curated items, and even technological innovations that help make gifting a more rewarding experience.

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Gotuaco noted that the pandemic restrictions also affected the businesses’ interaction with employees and staff members, with work-from-home policies put in place. Fostering an engaging business atmosphere has also become even more challenging with the absence of physical interactions among peers, and between bosses and subordinates.

This was how her innovative “Rewards Incentive Technologies” (RIT) was born, offering yet another solution to an emerging concern resulting from the pandemic.

“Our client, Stolt Nielsen Global Shared Services, raised their concerns on employee engagement, and how it was difficult to arrange and distribute grocery bags as employee gifts. We proposed our conceptual solution that would use curated merchandise and a user-friendly platform so that employees can earn and redeem points through attendance, participation in events and performance,” Gotuaco said.

She said Ice Justalero, senior specialist at Stolt Nielsen Global, shared with her that they found RIT to be a user-friendly platform for both employees and the system administrator.

“The look and feel of the platform was a great attractor. And after we sent out teasers, employees immediately got excited to shop and check out their rewards,” Justalero shared.

Points system

Not only has RIT served its purpose of fostering engagement, it has also revolutionized Stolt Nielsen Global’s “rewards and recognition” system.

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The company only gave away gift certificates or cash in the past, which turned out to be too limiting. “Gift certificates have fixed denominations and cash is taxable. Both options, especially when given often, can seem impersonal,” Justalero lamented.

RIT’s points system and branding of the merchandise offered more flexibility, and the rewards items were uniquely marked with the Stolt logo, which lent an air of exclusivity.

“In this day and age, the ability to ‘customize’ your reward is in itself an engaging experience. It allows the employees to ‘save’ their points for items that they really want or need and they don’t end up with items that will just gather dust. The points system is stimulating more participation in the activities that we are rolling out month-on-month,” Justalero said.

It took several months to develop the RIT to fit Stolt Nielsen Global’s needs. But it is currently in talks with other clients to adapt the technology in their own businesses.

“For just P100,000 worth of assorted corporate merchandise, the client company will be given a site for free with minimal monthly charge for hosting. SIP will take care of storing and fulfilling the delivery of the merchandise, whether to the client’s head office or to their employees’ homes,” she said.

SIP’s patented Uniform Management Technology and other innovations have also been beneficial for other clients, Gotuaco added.

“Right now, one of the main challenges of corporations is employee morale and engagement. With properly curated gifts and the right strategies, we have helped our clients create excitement and brand pride among their employees,” she said.

SIP is currently rolling out its catalogue of items and services for the coming holiday gifting season, and Gotuaco assured clients, “we have a good network of reliable supply chain that helps us fulfill our needs.”

She added: “We also have in-house quality control to make sure the items are within the standards that we have agreed with our clients.”

Gotuaco also reminded businesses that the most important aspect of gifting is the curation and presentation. “It should show thoughtfulness and care in the selection and purchase of the gift because the effort will result in how the recipient will feel after receiving the gift,” she noted.

“It can be a very inexpensive gift but if it is chosen well, it is useful and packaged well, it will make the recipient smile and create that long lasting bond,” Gotuaco concluded.

—Contributed
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