THE IN­DIAN MALLSCAPE: A RETAIL EX­PE­RI­ENCE LIKE NO OTHER

The Great In­dian Mall Boom be­gan in­nocu­ously enough in the early 2000s, with just three malls in ex­is­tence in the en­tire coun­try. The rest is, as they say, his­tory as In­dian shop­pers slowly but surely de­vel­oped a pen­chant for shop­ping in clean, vi­brant, c

Images Retail - - CONTENTS - – By Im­ages Retail Bureau

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Anarock, ti­tled ‘The Rise and Rise of In­dian Malls’, rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion and digi­ti­sa­tion, in­creas­ing dis­pos­able in­comes and life­style changes of the mid­dle­class are lead­ing to a ma­jor rev­o­lu­tion in the In­dian retail sec­tor, which is pegged to grow by 60 per­cent to reach US$ 1.1 tril­lion by 2020.

The re­port says that the In­dian Gov­ern­ment has clearly hit the bulls eye by eas­ing the FDI norms in the retail sec­tor over the past few years. Re­act­ing to the im­mense op­por­tu­ni­ties and di­min­ish­ing en­try bar­ri­ers into the In­dian retail scene, over­seas re­tail­ers are now ex­pand­ing ex­u­ber­antly. And it’s not just the met­ros they’re tar­get­ing – even Tier II cities like Ahmed­abad, Chandi­garh, Luc­know and Jaipur, to name a few, are open­ing up for or­gan­ised retail in a big way. Malls are lit­er­ally mush­room­ing across the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent. than 30 new shop­ping malls cov­er­ing nearly 14 mil­lion sq. ft. of area are ex­pected to come up across top eight cities by 2020.

Malls as FECS

As In­dia’s mallscape evolved, so did the as­pi­ra­tions of the young, Mil­len­nial shop­per. He de­manded more than just retail, and the shop­ping cen­tre com­mu­nity scram­bled to pro­vide it. After all, cus­tomer is always the king.

With the ad­vent of e-com­merce, this need to pro­vide more than just shop­ping to the con­sumer

be­came even more pro­found. Since ev­ery­thing was avail­able on­line and at the con­sumer’s doorstep, how ex­actly were malls go­ing to lure in shop­pers?

While some con­sid­ered e-com­merce a prom­i­nent threat – and lit­er­ally shut shop – oth­ers emerged stronger than ever. E-com­merce for them be­came a chal­lenge, a retail game they were de­ter­mined to win, and they did this by pro­vid­ing ex­pe­ri­ences which on­line shop­ping sim­ply couldn’t repli­cate.

Adapt­abil­ity & Flex­i­bil­ity

To­day with the help of the In­ter­net, meth­ods of en­gage­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tion have changed con­sid­er­ably. The retail in­dus­try, along with shop­ping cen­tres, is faced with the up­hill task of keep­ing up with the modern de­mands of the evolv­ing con­sumers. The old school of thought ‘once you get cus­tomers into your

store, sales will hap­pen’ no longer ap­plies since all malls of­fer sim­i­lar brands and an equal num­ber of stores. This is where in­no­va­tion and ex­pe­ri­en­tial retail has come in, quickly be­com­ing the tra­di­tional brick-and-mor­tar for­mat’s unique sell­ing point.

Fresh ideas and ground­break­ing schemes – each more dy­namic than the one be­fore – make it pos­si­ble for malls to con­nect with the con­sumer. The idea is to try some­thing new, very of­ten, so as to in­crease the num­ber of hits and quickly skate over the misses. A study of new and lat­est trends is a must in or­der to align ac­tiv­i­ties in the retail spa­ces busi­ness with con­tin­u­ally chang­ing con­sumer be­hav­ior pat­terns for cus­tomer feed­back can make or break sales.

In-store en­gage­ment is im­por­tant be­cause it is mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial for both the cus­tomer and the mall­based re­tailer. Con­sumer data and an­a­lyt­ics, when com­bined with friendly, face-to-face ser­vice, al­lows em­ploy­ees to cre­ate a sense of value and fa­mil­iar­ity for in-store shop­pers.

Evolv­ing Into Smart Malls

For to­day’s shop­pers, a trip to the mall needs to be a com­plete ex­pe­ri­ence – shop­ping, en­ter­tain­ment, leisure and dig­i­tal. To keep up the com­pe­ti­tion from e-com­merce, mall man­age­ment is turn­ing to dig­i­tal and tech­ni­cal aid to of­fer an en­hanced con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ence.

Mall wi-fi net­works – which open a di­rect chan­nel of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with con­sumers – per­son­al­ized shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences, in­ter­ac­tive maps and live stream­ing of events and of­fers in­side kiosks and on huge screens across the malls make for a more con­ve­nient and en­joy­able time for vis­i­tors.

Shop­ping cen­tres are us­ing tech­nol­ogy to mine cus­tomer data to know their shop­ping habits. They then use this data to pro­mote prod­ucts and ser­vices more ef­fec­tively while en­sur­ing a right mix of re­tail­ers for the lo­cal catch­ment.

Apart from these ob­vi­ous features, malls are in­tro­duc­ing sev­eral tech­based in­no­va­tions to bet­ter as­sist cus­tomers. Am­bi­ence Mall and Se­lect City­walk have launched apps which bring the mall direc­tory at the cus­tomer’s fin­ger­tips and in­cludes up­dates and no­ti­fi­ca­tions on new stores opened and up­com­ing events. Malls in Banglaore and Mumbai have in­tro­duced the ‘Pay on Foot Sys­tem.’

These ma­chines are lo­cated at lob­bies and exit points where the shop­pers can pay park­ing fees (some­times by re­deem­ing vouch­ers and coupons).

Phoenix Mar­ketc­ity boasts of high tech se­cu­rity sys­tems, night vi­sion IP based CCTV cam­eras, and a fa­cil­ity to pay park­ing pay­ments through dig­i­tal wal­let.

The long and short of this evo­lu­tion was that to­day, no mall can af­ford to op­er­ate in iso­la­tion, de­pend­ing solely on shop­ping as its prime source of rev­enue-gen­er­a­tion and foot­falls. Malls trans­formed into com­mu­nity spa­ces, bring­ing to the dis­cern­ing con­sumer the best of brands, food, and en­ter­tain­ment.

They are be­com­ing reg­u­lar after of­fice hang­out places or even dur­ing of­fice work spa­ces – with the new gen­er­a­tion fre­quent­ing cof­fee shops and pre­fer­ring to work there on their lap­tops, rather than their staid old of­fices. Mil­len­ni­als view vis­it­ing malls as a sta­tus sym­bol, col­lege go­ing teens choose malls for en­ter­tain­ment, cou­ples con­sider it for a ro­man­tic têteà-tête. In a nut­shell, shop­ping malls are com­mu­nity hubs where peo­ple go to re­ju­ve­nate, so­cialise and en­ter­tain.

We bring you an in-depth look at some of the best shop­ping cen­tres in the coun­try who are fo­cus­ing on tech­nol­ogy and the com­mu­nity to bet­ter con­nect with their cus­tomers in the pur­suit of ex­cel­lence.

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