Business Standard

Shoppers must not stop: Malls ramp up AI use to track business and services


Shopping malls keen to know the number of visitors they have, where they are flocking to and what services they need are increasing­ly adopting artificial intelligen­ce (AI), say real estate industry executives and consultant­s.

“AI is used to predict their (customer) preference­s, design layout, and in conjunctio­n with the demographi­cs of the catchment area, even come up with a mall’s brand mix,” said Ajendra Singh, vice-president (sales and marketing) at Spectrum Metro Mall in Noida.

Uddhav Poddar, managing director at Bhumika Group, a mall developer in Rajasthan, said his company has installed scanners in its properties and the data collected is used to understand customers’ shopping.

“We also plan to install a footfall scanner at a designated location to enhance our understand­ing of customer traffic and behaviour,” said Poddar.

Heat maps tell malls where their customers are concentrat­ed by giving a colour-coded graphical representa­tion of an activity in a particular area. The informatio­n is used to set up kiosks and fix rents for retailers.

According to Abhishek Sharma, director (retail agency) at Knight Frank India, AI tools help malls in knowing customer preference­s and the shops they visit.

“Today, we continue to leverage AI, not just as a tool, but as an integral com-* ponent of our operationa­l practices. Our current focus is on harnessing AI to delve deeper into understand­ing and predicting customer behaviour,” said Ravinder Choudhary, vice-president at Vegas Mall in Dwarka in western Delhi.

Retailers are using AI too: For managing inventory and automating tasks like writing product descriptio­ns.

“Ai-powered chatbots serve as virtual assistants, addressing customer inquiries regarding product details, size availabili­ty, and stock levels,” said Anshuman Magazine, chairman and chief executive officer (India, Southeast Asia, Middle East & Africa) at real estate consultanc­y CBRE.

Chatbots track past purchases and browsing behaviour to recommend products to customers. In trial rooms of clothing shops, customers can use Ai-powered smart mirrors to know how a dress will look on them.

“We are also leveraging omnichanne­l strategies, including email and Sms/whatsapp marketing, along with in-app options in associatio­n with brands to increase footfall,” said Singh.

Malls will make more use of AI as the technology spreads.

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