Nirzar Jain, Oberoi Mall
There are malls and there are more malls. Indeed, if there’s one thing that defines the changing Indian retail-scape and shopping scenario in the country then it has to be the mall, a near ubiquitous format today catering to the discerning Indian shopper who seeks newer and more unique shopping experiences. For a mall thus, the constant endeavour is to explore newer ways of engaging the consumers/shoppers and offer a packaged experience combining brand consumption with entertainment. In a chat with Point of Purchase, Nirzar Jain, VP-Oberoi Mall, Mumbai, shares his thoughts on what makes them tick in this challenging and highly competitive retail environment. Can you share some of your experiences in building brand satisfaction and increasing footfalls?
The customer’s expectations from a brand change, especially for a mall which is also viewed as community space. Oberoi Mall has been successful, primarily because of catering to the shoppers’ need and changing aspirations, responding to their need for interaction and also listening to everything they have to say about the mall and its brands. Oberoi Mall was the first in the country in terms of initiatives such as the 5050 – flash sale, Women’s Wednesday, “Assured prizes” on shopping, “Personal shopper” all which have made impressions that have not only generated satisfied customers but have also shown a healthy growth in footfalls.
What does it take to retain and capture shoppers? Could you elaborate based on your experience?
Indian shoppers are very demanding, once the basic hygiene and ambience is in place they challenge us to create events which are WOW and also expect us to execute the same every time. Other than the big events what the customer actually takes back home are smaller things like a polite security guard at the entrance, the quick response and first aid given at the time of emergency, the washroom for the handicapped, and prompt wheelchair facility for the disabled, special washroom or feeding room for the Child or finding instant response to feedback / grievance etc. In order to retain the customers and gain their loyalty, they have to be made to feel special.
From your vast experience in real estate and retail experience what can you share about the shopper of today? Can you provide some details on the changing face of the shopper and the types?
The typical Indian Shopper is now younger and very aspiring. They want the best of the brands and services at competitive price points. Although some shoppers still prefer going to their neighbourhood store since they have been visiting the place for ages and the shopkeeper is more of a friend, many have made the transition to malls and are now hooked onto the ‘cool’ mall culture. They love the convenience, airconditioned comfort, excellent customer care, and, of course, the ever-present deals and presence of all brands at one location. Customer’s mind set with respect to malls has changed from it being a place for shopping, to a provider of vibrant community space, where they interact with friends and family. There is a gaining sense of ownership about malls being their space, with everyone having their list of favourite malls and things to do.
Could you tell us more about some of your in store initiatives such as activations, promos etc. How have you seen this influence the shopper? Any interesting case study you would like to share?
We give a lot of thought to not only attracting more footfalls but also on the quality of footfalls. We closely measure if the mall activations and promotions have generated more sales for our retailers. We have seen that our focused approach and annual calendar of activities have doubled the retail turnover in the last 3-4 years. Our initiative of “50-50”- single day flash sale, a first in the country, now generates almost 12- 16% of the annual turnover of our retailers.
Oberoi mall has been known to house multiple brands, national and international, can you give some pointers to shoppers’ take on international brands. How are shoppers responding to multiple international retail outlets in Indian space? Can you elaborate on the same?
Consumers seem to value and admire global brands and regard such brands as a status symbol. Consumers are likely to attribute a superior quality to the brand, since such quality is thought of as a prerequisite for international acceptance. However the Indian Brands such as “Nalli Next”, “Cream Centre”, “Jashn” etc continue to do exceedingly well.
What is the kind of relationship you share with the brands who have the products in your store? What is the synergy you have with them and what are the challenges you face from them?
We try and create a win-win situation for the retailers as well as the mall, by involving the retailers in most of the plans; in fact some of the activations like 50-50 flash sale are planned in complete coordination with them. However, the retail store / area managers are not empowered enough to take floor level decisions or decide on local store marketing, which sometimes creates delays in execution and affects the ultimate delivery of experience to shoppers
Nirzar Jain VP - Oberoi Mall