One of NCR’s leading malls, Select Citywalk, which is also considered one of India’s most prime shopping centres, is considering an entry into the e-commerce space.
Elaborating on what seems like a counter -intuitive move, Yogeshwar Sharma, Executive Director, Select Citywalk, says, “In times to come, digital media will be bigger; one cannot ignore the kind of sales being racked up by online sites. If we have to stay ahead in the game, we need to evolve from brick-and-mortar retail to a click-and-mortar strategy. It is all about thinking creatively and pragmatically;we are also in dialogue with several brands and we want them also to work creatively with us.”
Divulging further details on the mall’s e-commerce agenda, Sharma states, “According to some industry estimates, 30-35 per cent fashion-related shopping only happens in Delhi-NCR and Select Citywalk has almost all the leading brands as tenants.”
“Also, to authenticate their presence, many online players are now going offline to give a real-life look and feel experience to their customers. The concept of hybrid retailing is becoming a market reality,” he adds.
Sharma believes that given Select Citywalk’s strong recall with customers, the mall would find it relatively easy to establish a strong connect with online shoppers as well.
Select Citywalk plans to convert its existing website into an e-commerce platform. Operating under a B2C marketplace model, the mall’s existing tenants can use the website to sell products, with Select Citywalk being offered a commission on actual sales.
Going against the common perception that consumers are increasingly favouring online channels due to their lower pricing model, Select Citywalk will keep the website pricing on par with that in the stores.
Offering his rationale on this, Sharma notes, “We will ask the retailers to not sell fresh stock online. The reason for not giving exuberant discounts to lure more traction online is simple: we want our e-commerce model to break even. Currently, even the big guns of online retail are bleeding; none of them have even broken even. So, we don’t want to follow the model of heavy discounting like other e-commerce players.”
“Irrespective of how influential big e-commerce business will become, services can’t be retailed online. So, as a developer, will focus more on services; we will have more FECs, gyms, foodservice joints, salon and spas in our centre to create differentiation,” he adds.
This move — by a leading mall to move into the e-commerce space — may be new for the Indian retail scenario, but in past, several foreign shopping centres have already taken that path. Westfield Group, one of the world’s largest mall operators with presence in Australia, New Zealand, UK and US, ventured into e-commerce in 2010. Later it transformed its website into a model where consumers can look for products to either buy at its tenant stores or directly from brand websites.