Are Malls dy­ing in In­dia? Not yet and not soon!

PaciĆc Mall, a part of PaciĆc In­dia – one of In­dia’s re­puted busi­ness groups with pres­ence in real es­tate, hos­pi­tal­ity and education sec­tors – is po­si­tioned as a pre­mium, shop­ping, en­ter­tain­ment and leisure des­ti­na­tion. The mall is home to more than 130 n

Shopping Center News - - CONTENTS - By Namita Bha­gat

Pa­cific Mall, is po­si­tioned as a pre­mium, shop­ping, en­ter­tain­ment and leisure des­ti­na­tion.

We caught up with Ab­hishek Bansal, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Pa­cific In­dia Group, to dis­cuss the chang­ing In­dian re­tail land­scape and the key re­cent de­vel­op­ments that are adding to the trans­for­ma­tion. He says that to com­bat the e-com­merce on­slaught, the phys­i­cal re­tail­ers and malls must adapt, evolve and stay fresh – and it would not be wise to write off malls so soon.

GST has been wel­comed by (al­most) all sec­tions of the In­dian busi­ness fra­ter­nity. Share your over­view of GST and its im­pact on the coun­try’s re­tail sec­tor.

Shop­ping malls will wit­ness great ben­e­fits with GST. There is no doubt that a uni­fied GST will not only help stream­line dif­fer­ent types of taxes but will in­cor­po­rate dif­fer­ent tax leg­is­la­tions un­der one co­he­sive regime across In­dia. Like any other sec­tor, the new tax sys­tem in­tro­duced by GST is all set to change the dy­nam­ics of the In­dian re­tail sec­tor in­clud­ing shop­ping malls. Value and vol­ume will both be­come key driv­ers for the re­tail seg­ment as brands will be pro­vid­ing more prod­uct lines and the lat­est in trends at shorter in­ter­vals. More­over, fast fash­ion will be the way for­ward. Thus, the im­pact of GST seems to be ad­van­ta­geous for shop­ping mall owners from tax­a­tion as well as op­er­a­tions stand­point.

What is your ob­ser­va­tion about the cus­tomer pay­ments sce­nario—is dig­i­tal trans­ac­tion in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a pre­ferred mode of pay­ment? Any key trend(s) to watch out for?

The re­tail world is un­der­go­ing a fast-paced revo­lu­tion. Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment and dig­i­tal in­no­va­tions have ush­ered new life into re­tail spa­ces by in­te­grat­ing phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ences. The pace of this revo­lu­tion is re­mark­able with no sign of slow­ing down, pro­vided all stake­hold­ers em­brace this change si­mul­ta­ne­ously. With shop­ping cen­tres tak­ing steps to merge off­line ex­pe­ri­ences with on­line ones, the fu­ture of re­tail is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ex­cit­ing for both re­tail­ers and con­sumers. So­cial Me­dia has its own role to play in this re­tail world and its im­por­tance will con­tinue to grow. To­day, the first part of de­ci­sion mak­ing for the new age con­sumer

is ini­ti­ated be­fore he en­ters the store. The phys­i­cal store is an ex­ten­sion and cul­mi­na­tion of his pri­mary on­line jour­ney. He car­ries the re­tail world within his mo­bile, with the en­tire shop­ping and leisure uni­verse in his pocket!

In­dia has crossed the one bil­lion mark for mo­bile smart phone users. So, one can but ex­pect an in­crease in dig­i­tal mode of pay­ments in malls, es­pe­cially among the younger crowd – be­tween 18-16 years. A sur­vey of in­ter­net users con­ducted on be­half of the firm by Kan­tar TNS in De­cem­ber 2016 found that 40 per­cent of re­spon­dents had used a credit card to com­plete a dig­i­tal shop­ping trans­ac­tion. Dig­i­tal pay­ments through mo­bile wal­lets and mo­bile banking apps have in­creased as the num­bers above de­note. This is a has­sle free trans­ac­tion mech­a­nism for all users who have a bank ac­count.

The In­dian re­tail sce­nario is trans­form­ing dras­ti­cally on all counts: faster pace, con­sumer de­mands and habits, brand avail­abil­ity, prod­uct as­sort­ments and of­fer­ings, tech­nol­ogy-driven sell­ing and buy­ing process, in­ten­si­fied com­pe­ti­tion, and reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment. How can phys­i­cal re­tail­ers keep up with the chang­ing re­tail land­scape and find room for fur­ther growth?

With in­creased com­pe­ti­tion from e-com­merce, there is now a press­ing need for phys­i­cal re­tail­ers to evolve. To flour­ish in this dy­namic sce­nario and beat com­pe­ti­tion, the phys­i­cal out­lets will have to pro­vide a more spe­cial­ized shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. At Pa­cific Mall, we think ahead, try to give the cus­tomer what they need from their “mall ex­pe­ri­ence” even be­fore they ask for it. We try to keep a step ahead of the cur­rent trends. Experiential shop­ping is the key to stay afloat and ahead in the game in this state of flux.

At Pa­cific Mall, we use Cloud based ap­pli­ca­tions to em­power teams to help them de­liver higher pro­duc­tiv­ity and ef­fi­ciency. This in­cludes ser­vices like Real time CSI & RSI Mgmt. Sys­tem, Fit-out Mgmt. ap­pli­ca­tion, Au­to­mated Daily Sales Re­port (ADSR), Leas­ing & SOH In­ven­tory Mgmt., Re­tailer An­a­lyt­ics Sys­tem and cus­tomer an­a­lyt­ics, Task & Snag Mgmt. ap­pli­ca­tion to name a few. Lat­est in tech­nol­ogy and op­er­a­tional sys­tems are one of the big­gest en­ablers for us and we have de­ployed some of the lat­est in­no­va­tive pro­grams in tech­nol­ogy such as the com­pletely au­to­mated sys­tem for log­ging and track­ing of com­plaints, use of ad­vanced soft­ware for Mall man­age­ment and op­er­a­tions for track­ing, au­dits and data man­age­ment, cen­tral­ized one point sys­tem to track con­sump­tion of all util­i­ties through­out the mall.

We have in­vested in state of the art se­cu­rity man­age­ment ser­vice and sur­veil­lance sys­tems and an In­ter­na­tional Mall Man­age­ment com­pany (PPZ) to help us main­tain these high stan­dards at mall. This in­volves continuous ren­o­va­tions and up-gra­da­tion of cus­tomer ser­vice ar­eas to en­hance cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, introduction of C1 (Cus­tomer First pro­gram) pro­gram to con­tin­u­ously train and groom on roll and out sourced staff to es­tab­lish high stan­dards in cus­tomer in­ter­ac­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence.

Other con­cepts are also do­ing the rounds in the mall space. Every­body is try­ing out new things to do ex­pand busi­ness and in­crease foot­fall. One of the emerg­ing con­cepts is that of ‘Pop-up-Stores’ which en­tails tem­po­rary use of phys­i­cal space to cre­ate a long term, last­ing im­pres­sion with po­ten­tial cus­tomers. En­vi­ron­ment friendly malls us­ing sun­light and open spa­ces will also evolve.

In the US, many ma­jor re­tail­ers and malls have closed down or are shrink­ing their phys­i­cal pres­ence. Do you think In­dian brick-and-mor­tar re­tail­ers and mall op­er­a­tors need to worry as of now? How do they need to re­think, rein­vent them­selves to sur­vive and thrive in the long run?

If re­tail is dy­ing why is money pour­ing into malls? The re­tail seg­ment in the real es­tate sec­tor at­tracted an in­vest­ment of over $700 mil­lion in 2016, which can rise by 20 per­cent in 2017, ac­cord­ing to prop­erty con­sul­tant CBRE. Over 40 ma­jor in­ter­na­tional brands have en­tered the coun­try over the past two years, CBRE said in Fe­bru­ary. Amid the flux in In­dia’s re­tail­ing busi­ness, rentals for ten­ants in malls haven’t fallen.

If you look around you will find, most of to­day’s top-per­form­ing and hi- foot­fall gain­ing shop­ping malls are mixed-use spa­ces with sig­nif­i­cant so­cial en­ter­tain­ment po­ten­tial that pro­vide exclusive ap­peal along with cer­tain in­ten­sity and nov­elty in shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. Malls are chang­ing their po­si­tion­ing and con­vert­ing to a neigh­bour­hood cen­tre to cater to a par­tic­u­lar catch­ment. Some are also get­ting in lux­ury brands to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves.

With malls, what counts most is the per­cep­tion of cus­tomers. To meet this chal­lenge, stores may have to be re-imag­ined to cre­ate richer shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences that re­flect their cus­tomers’ needs and shop­ping pref­er­ences. For a mall to achieve scal­able suc­cess and to stay a step ahead of other play­ers, to­day, you have to be adroit in un­der­stand­ing, fore­cast­ing and adapt­ing to chang­ing con­sumer needs and ex­pec­ta­tion. It’s a race to keep up with the con­stantly evolv­ing ecosys­tem and stay cur­rent on new trends and de­liver a new, cus­tom­ized and re­fresh­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to peo­ple. The scope of growth for the phys­i­cal out­lets lies in this adap­ta­tion, this zeal to evolve and stay fresh.

Things are chang­ing fast, evolv­ing fast to at­tract foot­falls and to stay in busi­ness. It would not be wise to write off malls so soon.

At PaciĆc Mall, we think ahead, try to give the cus­tomer what they need from their “mall ex­pe­ri­ence” even be­fore they ask for it. We try to keep a step ahead of the cur­rent trends.

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