DLF SHOP­PING MALLS: THE PRE­FERRED MALL DES­TI­NA­TIONS

Gone are the days when malls were only about shop­ping. To­day, they are all about of­fer­ing shop­pers ex­pe­ri­ences – F&B op­tions, spe­cial pro­mo­tions and en­ter­tain­ment hubs are fast be­com­ing the norm rather than the ex­cep­tion…

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Pushpa Bec­tor, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent and Busi­ness Head DLF Shop­ping Malls, talks about the mall’s jour­ney, re­tail ex­pan­sion plans and fu­ture strate­gies

In an ex­clu­sive con­ver­sa­tion with IMAGES Re­tail, Pushpa Bec­tor, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent and Busi­ness Head DLF Shop­ping Malls, talks about the mall’s jour­ney, re­tail ex­pan­sion plans and fu­ture strate­gies.

Tell us about the jour­ney of DLF malls? What chal­lenges did you face com­ing up to the top?

The jour­ney of DLF malls has been chal­leng­ing but ex­tremely re­ward­ing with all malls (DLF Prom­e­nade, DLF Mall of In­dia, DLF Cy­berhub, DLF Place Saket & DLF City Cen­tre Chandi­garh) do­ing ex­cep­tion­ally well. We have suc­cess­fully es­tab­lished

DLF Prom­e­nade as the most ad­mired fash­ion desti­na­tion and DLF Mall of In­dia as the largest mall in In­dia to­day. DLF Place Saket has also carved an iden­tity for it­self with more and more brands find­ing space in it and rapidly grow­ing foot­falls on a daily ba­sis. DLF Cy­berhub is a unique F&B desti­na­tion that of­fers the best world cuisines in the heart of Gu­ru­gram.

In the re­cent past GST and de­mon­eti­sa­tion have been the ma­jor chal­lenges but the im­pact of the same van­ished soon after their im­pli­ca­tion. From a tech­nol­ogy stand­point, there have been no sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges as we have been mov­ing ahead of the curve us­ing in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy to el­e­vate the cus­tomer con­ve­nience quo­tient.

In your opin­ion, what fac­tors have led to DLF malls be­ing such a huge hit in In­dia?

An ideal brand and prod­uct mix is sacro­sanct in de­ter­min­ing the suc­cess of a mall. Ad­di­tion­ally, el­e­ments like hos­pi­tal­ity, lo­ca­tion, con­ve­nience and safety play a sig­nif­i­cant role. Malls are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing ex­pe­ri­en­tial cen­tres and

hence, there is con­sid­er­able em­pha­sis given to F&B and en­ter­tain­ment when plan­ning a mall. Our en­deavor is to al­ways give our cus­tomer the best ex­pe­ri­ence; there­fore, we deeply fo­cus on pro­vid­ing great hos­pi­tal­ity and safety.

What role does in­no­va­tion and cus­tomer centricity play in keep­ing vis­i­tors en­gaged?

Cus­tomers are very de­mand­ing these days and look for an in­no­va­tive fac­tor ev­ery now and then that will drive them to the mall. Keep­ing this cus­tomer sen­ti­ment in mind, we are con­stantly in­no­vat­ing and com­ing up with cus­tomer en­gag­ing events to mul­ti­ply foot­fall. Events like Sugar Rush, Burg­ers & Cock­tails Fes­ti­val, Night Owl Fes­ti­val,

Sufi Sama, Khaana Ba­jana,

Ja­pan Cul­tural Fest, etc are some of the ex­am­ples in this di­rec­tion. All the events have done well, and some have been a huge suc­cess. We fo­cus on pro­vid­ing a holis­tic pleas­ing ex­pe­ri­ence en­tail­ing not just great shop­ping but im­pact­ful events.

Let’s talk about the Phy­gi­tal Ex­pe­ri­ence, per­son­al­i­sa­tion, and in­tel­li­gent tech­nolo­gies DLF of­fers…

With the re-launch of DLF Cy­berhub, we ush­ered in the era of ‘phy­gi­tal’ ex­pe­ri­ences for our cus­tomers within the DLF Shop­ping Malls port­fo­lio. Huber – DLF Cy­berhub’s vir­tual concierge is a prime ex­am­ple of this. You can talk to Huber to find out where the next Sufi night/ ladies night/etc. will be and at which lo­ca­tion; you can re­serve a ta­ble; check out the menu; find the per­fect place which is right for you right at your fin­ger­tips and at your con­ve­nience. Over time Huber gets to know you and can make per­son­alised rec­om­men­da­tions just for you.

How im­por­tant is a lo­ca­tion strat­egy in defin­ing the suc­cess of DLF Malls?

Lo­ca­tion will al­ways be a prime con­cern for cus­tomers and we are cog­nizant of that. All our malls are lo­cated in the heart of the city with easy con­nec­tiv­ity whether through met­ros, cabs or sim­ply driv­ing one­self. We have two in Delhi it­self, which cater to dif­fer­ent catch­ment ar­eas. Cus­tomers pre­fer go­ing to a mall, which is closer to them and hence, our shop­ping cen­tres are lo­cated where the cus­tomers are.

Your take on im­por­tance of zon­ing in a mall?

The zon­ing of a mall is an added con­ve­nience ser­vice that we of­fer to con­sumers and it plays a key role in be­com­ing a one stop desti­na­tion for all that the cus­tomers are look­ing for.

DLF Mall of In­dia is the first mall in the coun­try that is fully zoned. The ground and first floors house the in­ter­na­tional and na­tional brands, sec­ond floor fo­cuses on eth­nic wear fol­lowed by the fam­ily world on the third floor and F&B and en­ter­tain­ment spread across the fourth, fifth and sixth floors. Zon­ing of the mall has helped in struc­tur­ing the of­fer­ings ef­fec­tively and cus­tomers are able to find dif­fer­ent stores within the same cat­e­gory eas­ily.

Is there need for Om­nichan­neli­sa­tion of malls? Your views.

In our view, malls need to em­brace tech­nol­ogy and be­come in­creas­ingly more dig­i­tal. How­ever, they don’t need to take the tra­di­tional Om­nichan­nel ap­proach. At DLF Shop­ping Malls, we are mov­ing to­wards a phy­gi­tal ex­pe­ri­ence for the cus­tomer, which in our view is the right path to walk down.

What role does F&B play in gen­er­at­ing foot­fall in malls?

Over the years food courts and F&B out­lets have emerged as one of the key fac­tors in gen­er­at­ing foot­falls as they cre­ate stick­i­ness.

The evolv­ing food palate of In­dian cus­tomers is al­ways on a look out for try­ing new in­ter­na­tional cuisines. While some look for an elab­o­rate seat­ing set up to spend qual­ity time with their friends and fam­ily, oth­ers pre­fer quick on the go de­lec­ta­ble bites. F&B ac­counts for al­most 20 per­cent of the space in the malls.

Tell us about the role that hos­pi­tal­ity plays in gen­er­at­ing foot­falls? What are the other ser­vices that you of­fer? What is the im­por­tance of these ser­vices? How is DLF dif­fer­ent from oth­ers in this seg­ment

Hos­pi­tal­ity is ex­tremely im­por­tant for us at the DLF shop­ping malls. Cus­tomers are in­creas­ingly well trav­elled and ex­posed to var­i­ous lev­els of cus­tomer ser­vice. They can come to ex­cept the same from malls and brands in In­dia as well. Hence, we pride our­selves on be­ing able to of­fer a high-qual­ity ex­pe­ri­ence at any of our DLF shop­ping malls. We have ex-hote­liers at the helm of each prop­erty, en­sur­ing a high level of op­er­a­tions is main­tained. Ev­ery cus­tomer touch point from the park­ing to rest rooms and concierge ser­vices are de­signed to en­sure the ut­most level of ser­vice. If a cus­tomer feels at­tach­ment to a mall ba­sis how he/she is treated at ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion point, then they will be a cus­tomer for life.

We have a host of ser­vices across our malls like free Wifi, valet, baby chang­ing and baby feed­ing rooms, cur­rency ex­change, phar­macy, first aid, dif­fer­ently able as­sis­tance, wheel­chairs, prams, tai­lor­ing ser­vices, dry clean­ing, driver’s lounge, car wash ser­vices, child safety bands, etc.

What does the fu­ture of re­tail hold for the malls of to­mor­row?

Tech­nol­ogy will con­tinue to be the game changer and as a lead­ing player in the arena, we will cap­i­tal­ize on this trend and con­tinue to in­no­vate in the in­ter­est of Mil­len­ni­als and other tar­get groups.

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