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…
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