Grand Venice Mall: In­dia’s First Mega-Tourist Des­ti­na­tion Mall Lures Con­sumers with Vene­tian Theme

Shopping Center News - - CONTENTS - – By IM­AGES Re­tail Bureau

De­scribe the jour­ney of your mall? What are the chal­lenges and difͤcul­ties you had to face when you came up - from real es­tate to tech­nol­ogy chal­lenges?

This jour­ney has been a dream come true for us. We had started this project al­most eight years ago and this is a prod­uct of our rig­or­ous labour. We are a mega tourist des­ti­na­tion based on a Vene­tian con­cept. This con­cept is very new to In­dia. Mak­ing the ar­chi­tects, tech­nol­o­gists and labours un­der­stand the con­cept was re­ally difͤcult. They took two-three times more time than usual to cre­ate what we had dreamt of. We also need to take good care of the safety and se­cu­rity of peo­ple who come to visit the mall so with the com­plex de­sign and con­cept, we still are fac­ing a few difͤcul­ties when we work on both real es­tate and the tech­nol­ogy side of the mall.

What are the key el­e­ments that de­ter­mine the suc­cess of a mall?

A com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors: lo­ca­tion, the catch­ment area around it, the right re­tail and prod­uct mix, de­sign and main­te­nance and of course size. The most im­por­tant thing is to ad­dress the needs of the ma­jor­ity of the catch­ment area around it. A lot of ex­per­tise is re­quired—the way it’s de­signed, the dis­plays, the shops and part of this de­sign is to make it pos­si­ble for vis­i­tors to see as many shops as they can, where they stand. The ul­ti­mate goal is to pro­vide an at­mos­phere that is con­ducive to con­sumers. This in­volves a care­ful plan­ning of the cen­tre to pro­vide an ef­fec­tive flow of cus­tomers that gives great­est ex­po­sure to shop fronts, where mer­chan­dise is at­trac­tively dis­played to en­cour­age sales.

What role does in­no­va­tion and cus­tomer cen­tric­ity play in keep­ing a cus­tomer en­gaged? How is your shop­ping cen­tre dif­fer­ent from oth­ers?

Our ba­sic idea be­hind con­cep­tu­al­is­ing the mall was our unique of­fer­ing to the cus­tomer. Cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence has al­ways been at the fore­front. The fact that they get enamored of the charm cre­ated around Venice gives us a feel­ing of sat­is­fac­tion. Cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence is our pri­or­ity and we can­not af­ford to com­pro­mise on that. Ev­ery ele­ment in the mall is de­signed with the cus­tomer in mind, be it the theme, grandeur, gon­dola ride, food court, park­ing ser­vices, over­all am­bi­ence, choice of brands, en­ter­tain­ment etc. To be con­cise, ev­ery corner of our mall is cus­tomer cen­tric. Our mall is based on the Ital­ian theme. We have the Dodges Palace, Italy and other tourist el­e­ments like Foun­tain D’ Trevi, Statue of Julius Cae­sar and the clock tower – all rem­i­nis­cent of Ital­ian ar­chi­tec­ture and its glory. On the in­side, there are two canals com­plete with Gon­dola rides. The in­side is a replica of Venice city ar­chi­tec­ture, in­clud­ing the fa­mous Lean­ing Tower of Pisa.

Tell us about the Phys­i­cal Ex­pe­ri­ence, per­son­al­i­sa­tion, and in­tel­li­gent tech­nolo­gies your shop­ping cen­tre of­fers?

The Grand Venice is mod­ern In­dia’s ͤrst mega tourist des­ti­na­tion op­er­a­tional since 2015. We are now gear­ing up to give our cus­tomers to have our mall ex­pe­ri­ence at their ͤnger tips. Com­plete digi­ti­sa­tion process is un­der­way and the com­ing year we will be tak­ing it to the next level. The mall has been de­signed as per in­ter­na­tional stan­dards and in­tro­duces the unique con­cept of Vene­tian ar­chi­tec­ture. From its ar­chi­tec­ture and canals to its unique pul­sat­ing en­ergy, the mall brings alive the magic of Venice in In­dia. The de­sign el­e­ments of our mall are Lean­ing Tower of Pisa, Gon­dolas and in­built canals for gon­dola rides, Julius Caeser, mu­si­cal foun­tain and magic sky.

What’s your lo­ca­tion strat­egy and why?

With nearly 100 malls in oper­a­tion across the re­gion, Delhi-NCR is the de­fault ‘mall cap­i­tal’ of the coun­try. No other In­dian city comes any­where close to its undis­puted po­si­tion. In 2015-16, Delhi-NCR in­flu­enced about 60 per­cent of the pan-In­dia sup­ply and de­mand for re­tail real es­tate – and this sce­nario is un­likely to change in times to come. Greater Noida is part of the tourist cir­cuit on the Golden Tri­an­gle, one of the fastest grow­ing busi­ness, com­mer­cial and ed­u­ca­tion hubs. There­fore, it was an ideal choice!

Im­por­tance of zon­ing?

Zon­ing al­lows re­tail­ers help at­tract both types of con­sumers. Un­der zon­ing, mall devel­op­ers ba­si­cally for­mu­late right ten­ant mix to at­tract both types of cus­tomers es­pe­cially the im­pulse buy­ers. It cre­ates a dis­tinct im­age in the minds of the cus­tomers. Cre­at­ing the right ten­ant mix not only helps in at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing shop­pers by of­fer­ing them mul­ti­ple choices and sat­is­fy­ing mul­ti­ple needs, but also fa­cil­i­tates the smooth move­ment of shop­pers within the mall, avoid­ing un­nec­es­sary clus­ters and bot­tle­necks. In the era of com­pe­ti­tion, zon­ing ex­er­cise, if done prop­erly helps in build­ing a sep­a­rate im­age in the minds of the vis­i­tors. This also helps in­flu­ence shop­pers’ mall pref­er­ences and fre­quency of vis­its, which is crit­i­cal con­sid­er­ing the ro­bust up­com­ing sup­ply of malls.

What is a brand’s lo­ca­tion pref­er­ence to­day? Are they look­ing at malls or high streets and why?

What a mall can of­fer, a high street can never. Shop­ping cen­tres in Delhi-NCR pro­vide con­sumers with the ad­van­tage of a holis­tic re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence that in­te­grates so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties like F&B and en­ter­tain­ment with shop­ping. The suc­cess of shop­ping cen­tres can be largely at­trib­uted to their con­stant en­deav­ors to bring­ing new brands, ap­ply­ing ex­cel­lent mall man­age­ment skills and adopt­ing crit­i­cal dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tors. For brands to­day, the ques­tion isn’t where to go, what mat­ters the most is the tar­get au­di­ence catch­ment and the lo­ca­tion. Foot­falls are al­most ͤve times higher in malls than on high street lo­ca­tions. Malls of­fer the con­ve­nience of lo­ca­tion and com­fort - not just for shop­pers, but also for re­tail­ers in the form of build­ing main­te­nance and se­cu­rity, park­ing space etc.”

In­ter­na­tional brands hog the lime­light in malls. Do you think homegrown brands should be also given more space and value?

Homegrown re­tail brands are fac­ing tough times in re­tain­ing their spots in top per­form­ing malls as a host of in­ter­na­tional brands make a pitch for qual­ity real es­tate. Top per­form­ing malls are in­creas­ingly giv­ing prime space to for­eign re­tail­ers over do­mes­tic brands. Most mall devel­op­ers have re­lo­cated or re­sized stores of lo­cal brands in or­der to ac­com­mo­date big global play­ers such as Gap, H&M, and Zara. I think homegrown brands

Grand Venice Mall is In­dia’s first mega tourist des­ti­na­tion op­er­a­tional since 2015. We are now gear­ing up to give our cus­tomers the ex­pe­ri­ence at their finger tips. Com­plete digi­ti­sa­tion process is un­der­way and in this year, we will be tak­ing it to the next level.

should also be given more space and value.

Is there need for Om­nichan­neli­sa­tion of malls? Your views.

It is very es­sen­tial to har­monise at­ten­tion across all chan­nels. It is also cru­cial to of­fer su­pe­rior ser­vices to con­sumers, give them mem­o­rable and sharable ex­pe­ri­ences. The Om­nichan­nel ap­proach not only gives the con­sumer an op­tion to ven­ture out to shop at the store but also gives him the con­ve­nience to shop any­time, from any­where. An Om­nichan­nel strat­egy will en­able re­tail­ers to re-think their busi­ness strat­egy in or­der to tap the best of both worlds and max­imise on foot­falls. Om­nichan­nel strate­gies are there­fore of ex­treme im­por­tance and over time; both (re­tail & e-tail) will learn to co­ex­ist as they are in­de­pen­dent on each other. It is the next pro­gres­sive step for shop­ping cen­tres.

Elab­o­rate on the im­por­tance of food courts and the role F&B plays in gen­er­at­ing foot­fall in malls?

Food courts boost over­all sales be­cause they of­fer panoramic views of what is avail­able at the lower lev­els. Be­sides driv­ing foot­fall, larger food courts are ma­jor rev­enue earn­ers as they gen­er­ate mul­ti­ple sales. Food

The Mall is soon go­ing to have Mastiii Zone, which will of­fer Zip Line Rides, Bowl­ing Al­ley, Vir­tual Re­alty Ar­cade, 7D theatre, House of Dead - In­dia’s Scari­est House, Kids Play Area, Archery & Shoot­ing, Car­ni­vals and Ar­cade Games

courts at­tract foot­falls that are crit­i­cal for the suc­cess of food busi­ness. So from quick cof­fees, laid back fam­ily brunches to those spe­cial and ex­ten­sive dates, food courts are to­day fun, ad­ven­ture and laugh­ter in the form of a never heard or seen be­fore con­cept. No mat­ter how badly a mall is do­ing, food courts will pull crowds on their own steam.

The im­por­tance and beneͤts of be­ing a Fam­ily En­ter­tain­ing Cen­tre (FEC) in­stead of a mall?

Malls to­day are re­deͤn­ing en­ter­tain­ment. Stand­alone gam­ing ar­cades and en­ter­tain­ment cen­tres that opened be­fore the re­tail boom are a thing of the past. Devel­op­ers are in­creas­ingly tap­ping into their po­ten­tial and of­fer­ing more than shops and restau­rants. In fact, en­ter­tain­ment zones are catch­ing the fancy of mall devel­op­ers as an al­ter­na­tive to draw cus­tomers, keep them spend­ing and even in­crease rev­enue for other ten­ants. The Grand Venice Mall is soon go­ing to have Mastiii Zone, a much loved FEC brand which will of­fer Zip Line Ride (for the ͤrst time in In­dia), a Bowl­ing Al­ley, Cricket Lanes, a Vir­tual Re­alty Ar­cade, 7D theatre, House of Dead - In­dia’s Scari­est House, Dash­ing Cars, Kids Play Area, Pen­du­lum Swing, Archery & Shoot­ing, Car­ni­val Games and Ar­cade Games.

Tell us about the role that hospi­tal­ity plays in gen­er­at­ing foot­falls? What are the other ser­vices that you of­fer? What is the im­por­tance of these ser­vices?

Hospi­tal­ity has emerged as a lu­cra­tive cat­e­gory to keep the mall bustling. With an in­tent to lev­er­age on the higher rev­enues gen­er­ated by this seg­ment, malls are leas­ing out prime ground floor spa­ces to bring new F&B brands within their fold. We are mak­ing it a des­ti­na­tion for con­ve­nience needs, life­style shop­pers, tourists, youth and chil­dren. Our Zip line is one of the ͤrst in the coun­try and this ad­ven­ture has never been a part of any mall be­fore; we also pro­mote art, theatre, mu­sic learn­ing to the as­pir­ing by hav­ing stal­warts train them.

What ini­tia­tives are taken at your end to keep foot­falls rolling?

The Grand Venice is a mall with var­i­ous key at­trac­tions like the Dodges Palace, wa­ter bod­ies, Gon­dola rides, and other tourist el­e­ments like Foun­tain de’ Trevi, Statue of Julius Cae­sar and the clock tower – all rem­i­nis­cent of Ital­ian ar­chi­tec­ture and its glory. There are two canals com­plete with Gon­dola rides. The in­side is a replica of Venice city ar­chi­tec­ture, in­clud­ing the fa­mous Lean­ing Tower of Pisa. We con­stantly try to pro­vide whole­some fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment apart from best of shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence to all our cus­tomers. We are mov­ing from movies to play zones to much more ap­peal­ing events de­pend­ing on the fes­ti­val sea­son.”

What does the fu­ture of re­tail hold for the malls of to­mor­row?

A seis­mic shift in the mar­ket is un­der­way, and re­tail­ers are rac­ing to en­sure they’re able to meet the needs of de­mand­ing shop­pers. With the ad­vent of e-com­merce in 2014, real­tors again started an­tic­i­pat­ing a threat. Though they didn’t get cold feet, they did start strate­gis­ing – hav­ing learnt from past mis­takes – think­ing of more and more creative ways to re­tain spend­ing cus­tomers. Malls are con­stantly up­grad­ing and evolv­ing keep­ing in mind the changes in cus­tomer pref­er­ences and are de­vis­ing strate­gies to cre­ate bet­ter cus­tomer con­nect. While shop­ping on­line may of­fer a level of con­ve­nience in an oth­er­wise busy life­style, the mall of the fu­ture will be based around con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ences that go well be­yond tra­di­tional shop­ping.

A mall, when com­bined with a theme and an en­ter­tain­ment zone, be­comes a so­cial space for peo­ple to visit again and again. Queency Bhasin, CEO,The Grand Venice Mall, talks about the need to cre­ate a dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion fac­tor as the key USP to sur­vive in this dig­i­tal age. Ex­cerpts from the ex­clu­sive in­ter­view…

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