LuLu Mall: The Melt­ing Pot of Fash­ion, Food, Cul­ture and En­ter­tain­ment

Since its launch in 2013, LuLu Mall has trans­formed the way Ker­ala shops. Be­ing the first av­enue for large scale or­gan­ised re­tail in the state, LuLu has been able to stay far ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion across the state…

Shopping Center News - - CONTENTS - – By San­deep Ku­mar

LuLu Group In­ter­na­tional is a di­ver­siͤed en­tity. Keep­ing its re­tail di­vi­sion as top pri­or­ity, LuLu Group op­er­ates in hy­per­mar­kets, shop­ping malls, im­ports and ex­ports, trad­ing, ship­ping, IT, travel and tourism and ed­u­ca­tion. With an an­nual turnover of over $ 6.9 bil­lion (about `44,160 crore) and staff strength of over 40,000, LuLu Group is con­sid­ered a ma­jor player in the eco­nomic sce­nario of the Mid­dle East.

Since its launch in 2013, LuLu Mall has trans­formed the way Ker­ala shops. Be­ing the ͤrst av­enue for large scale or­gan­ised re­tail in the state, LuLu has been able to stay far ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion across the state. Shibu Philips, Business Head of LuLu Shop­ping Mall, be­lieves in an age where with soar­ing cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions, if a com­pany can cre­ate satisͤed cus­tomers, re­ten­tion be­comes in­stinc­tive. Ex­cerpts from the ex­clu­sive chat…

De­scribe the jour­ney of LuLu Mall, one of the largest mall in In­dia in terms of area? What are the chal­lenges and difͤcul­ties– from real es­tate to tech­nol­ogy – that you had to face when you came up?

Cur­rently com­plet­ing ͤve years of op­er­a­tions, LuLu Mall is spread across four storeys oc­cu­py­ing more than 2.5 mil­lion sq.ft. of space in 17 acres. When we launched the mall in 2013, we had 75 per­cent oc­cu­pancy and the chal­lenge of bring­ing best brands to an un­ex­plored mar­ket of Kochi was im­mense. To­day we are 100 per­cent leased with 223 op­er­a­tional stores and 25 kiosks. We have launched over 75 brands for the ͤrst time in Ker­ala and we con­tinue to at­tract brands who want to ex­plore the south­ern mar­ket. The LuLu Hy­per­mar­ket– at about 2,00,000 sq. ft. – is the go-to store for both premium and low-in­come cus­tomers for the va­ri­ety it of­fers at in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, and that too at af­ford­able price. Our pa­trons en­joy lux­ury of cin­e­matic ex­pe­ri­ence at PVR Gold, with a 9-screen mul­ti­plex and then there is the 55,000-sq.ft. en­ter­tain­ment zone in­clud­ing tram­po­line park and an ice stak­ing zone.

Sus­tain­ing the mo­men­tum of the mall and record­ing steady

growth has not been easy and we faced sev­eral chal­lenges. The build­ing codes had to be made from scratch, due to the ab­sence of any prior model to look up to in the Ker­ala mar­ket. En­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ances, lack of lo­cal labour, the 60 per­cent rain­fall the state re­ceives were the chal­lenges that we were able to over­come suc­cess­fully. The big­gest chal­lenge most malls are fac­ing to­day is change in rules which lack con­sis­tency. Ap­provals are tak­ing time, park­ing poli­cies are chang­ing, and malls are forced to pump in more money on se­cu­rity, mak­ing any law & or­der sit­u­a­tion hap­pen­ing within its premise the mall’s is­sue rather than be­ing the state’s re­spon­si­bil­ity as well. The com­mon in­fra­struc­ture of the state is not able to catch up with the fast pace of de­vel­op­ment.

What’s your lo­ca­tion strat­egy? Why Kochi?

When we de­cided to en­ter In­dia, we chose our home town Kochi, a Tier II city for the launch. The mall is strate­gi­cally lo­cated on Edap­pally Junc­tion with four en­trances. The cen­tre is strate­gi­cally lo­cated at an in­ter­sec­tion of two ma­jor high­ways,mak­ing it ac­ces­si­ble to all the res­i­dents in the neigh­bor­hood. LuLu is on an ex­pan­sion mode glob­ally and in In­dia, two mall projects are un­der con­struc­tion – Luc­know and Thiru­vanan­tha­pu­ram. We un­der­stand that the op­por­tu­nity that lies in Tier II mar­kets.

What, ac­cord­ing to you, are the key el­e­ments that will de­ter­mine the suc­cess of your mall?

Right Brand Mix: We con­stantly try on in­clud­ing the stores that the cus­tomers re­spond to. Though our an­chor store that drives trafͤc is still key, a cu­rated mix will help us in mak­ing all our zones ac­tive. With online shop­ping thriv­ing by the day, malls must aim at pro­vid­ing unique­ness. This must be done through a well-planned en­ter­tain­ment zone and the best F & B brands. Cus­tomer En­gage­ment: We al­ways believe in ex­tend­ing the re­la­tion­ships with cus­tomers. Through social me­dia, app and as well by our loy­alty pro­gram which has 1,50,000 + mem­bers we have cre­ated deeper bonds. Cus­tomers like to get re­warded, and with var­i­ous online ac­tiv­i­ties we make them happy by giv­ing away good­ies and gifts. Bet­ter Cus­tomer Ex­pe­ri­ence with Ser­vices & Events: Malls are get­ting closer to the cus­tomers by un­der­stand­ing the pulse of the cus­tomers. At LuLu mall, we mul­ti­mate lev­els of con­ve­nience like valet park­ing, pram, but­ler etc. Cus­tomer in­cen­tive pro­grams, in­ter­na­tional per­for­mances and cam­paigns add more to the list of value-added el­e­ments.

Let’s talk in­no­va­tion –both tech and in-store. What has LuLu done in this ͤeld and what are you plan­ning over the next one year to keep con­sumers com­ing in?

LuLu’s Loy­alty Pro­gram has helped to es­tab­lish a di­rect re­la­tion­ship with the cus­tomers, go­ing be­yond each visit to the mall. Shop­pers can use their smart­phones to scan pur­chase re­ceipts in ex­change for points that can be re­deemed against gift vouch­ers.

We are also in our ͤnal stage of in­cor­po­rat­ing Geo-fenc­ing and ANPR (Au­to­matic Number Plate Recog­ni­tion) to our LuLu Loy­alty Pro­gram.

Apart from this, we have de­signed a PGS sys­tem (in­tel­li­gent park­ing guid­ance) that suits all types of car park­ing ar­eas. Re­gard­less of the park­ing space size, the sys­tem en­sures cus­tomers ͤnd a space by guid­ing them di­rectly to it, in real time. We have also re­cently in­cor­po­rated ‘puz­zle park­ing’, con­sid­er­ing the heavy foot­falls the mall gar­ners.

Tell us about the phy­gi­tal ex­pe­ri­ences, per­son­al­i­sa­tion strate­gies, and in­tel­li­gent tech­nolo­gies that LuLu of­fers its con­sumers?

We all know that it’s im­por­tant to think out­side the box. Cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive and last­ing mem­ory in the minds of the cus­tomers will get peo­ple talk­ing, tweet­ing and shar­ing to their friends and fam­ily for days to come. Phy­gi­tal mar­ket­ing helps us to see con­sumers in real life, in­ter­act with them and give them an op­por­tu­nity to feel in­cluded, act­ing as am­bas­sadors for us. We also believe in hav­ing a ‘ͤrst-hand ex­pe­ri­ence’ with the cus­tomers, by giv­ing them a sa­tiable ex­pe­ri­ence that they would like to en­joy again and again.

LuLu’s Loy­alty Pro­gram has helped es­tab­lish a di­rect re­la­tion­ship with cus­tomers, go­ing be­yond each visit to the mall. Shop­pers can use their smart­phones to scan pur­chase re­ceipts in ex­change for points that can be re­deemed against gift vouch­ers – one of our best phy­gi­tal ex­pe­ri­ences.

Is there a need for Om­nichan­neli­sa­tion of malls? Your views.

With­out doubt, e-re­tail is on a steady tra­jec­tory in In­dia, and so are pro­fes­sion­ally run malls. From the bas­ket, off­line will get cer­tain per­cent­age of the share and online will get theirs. And if we can ͤnd com­mon ground, no one beneͤts more than the cus­tomer. Sev­eral online re­tail­ers like Chum­bak and Zi­vame have now cho­sen to be present within malls, hav­ing un­der­stood the im­por­tance of be­ing tan­gi­ble for the In­dian cus­tomers. Shop­ping Cen­ters are also reach­ing masses through var­i­ous e-pro­grams. But when it comes to feel and touch like food & en­ter­tain­ment, the cus­tomers must come and visit us. Peo­ple value a lot of re­la­tions, in­di­vid­u­als want to ex­pe­ri­ence the ser­vices ͤrst hand. We cre­ate loyal ser­vice which cre­ates hu­man bond­ing.

You’re ob­vi­ously do­ing a lot to keep your con­sumer en­gaged. Tell us more about your shop­ping mall’s cus­tomer cen­tric­ity ideas are dif­fer­ent from oth­ers.

Fo­cused mar­ket­ing is the need of the hour and it’s im­por­tant to pro­vide cus­tomers with an ex­pe­ri­ence that meet their in­di­vid­ual needs. ‘Blan­ket tar­get­ing’ shop­pers with generic schemes and in­cen­tives will not be sufͤ­cient. To­day’s cus­tomers

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