There is no doubt retail stores across the globe are suffering with the rise of online shopping. While many brick and mortar formats have already taken irreversible hits, many retailers are also leveraging technology to boost customer experiences. And some forward-looking shopping centres are now also doing their bit to generate the ‘Wow’ in shopper experiences.
“A storm of global trends are coming together at the same time to cause malls to change the role they play in people’s lives. No longer are they primarily about shopping. Now, when consumers visit malls, they are looking for experiences that go well beyond traditional shopping,” writes McKinsey & Co Principal Fernanda Hoefel in a report titled ‘The Future of the Shopping Mall’.
“By adopting multichannel strategies, malls can offer rewarding shopping experiences to the connected consumers. Digital technologies and customer oriented marketing provide mall operators with new means to increase footfall and become more relevant to their retailers,” says Dubai-based specialist multichannel marketing service provider Azur Digital in a recent report.
“The objective is to create distinctive services and offers that make customers feel valued and incentivized to frequently engage with the mall and its brands,” it adds. .
Select Citywalk, arguably India’s most recognised and felicitated shopping centre, is a case in point; the centre is shortly to launch an exciting, engaging solution for food court “pain-points”.
The centre has been running trial around tabletop tablets in its food court, My Square, as part of an effort to enhance customer experience and make service more efficient. SelectCityWalk claims to be the first mall in country to introduce tabletop tablets in a food court.
“Consumer expectations are higher when it comes to turnaround times for service; no one wants to wait 10 minutes to place an order. In a food court set-up, unlike in restaurants, consumers typically first need to get their cards recharged before placing orders. With tabletop tablets, we are reducing one activity — the time involved in placing the order,” says Yogeshwar Sharma, Executive Director, Select CityWalk.
“Customers just need to recharge the card and then can simply order anything from the comfort of their seats. The tablets are connected to all the outlets in our food court; as and when a consumer places an order, a notification will be sent to the outlet and they’ll start processing the order. Once the meal is ready, the consumer will get a notification on the tablet,” he explains.
The tablets, which are currently installed on only 5-6 tables, will be launched officially on all tables within one month. “Our first step was to get all our back-end requirements in place. We were conducting a trial run over the past month and consumers’ response has been good. The tablets will be installed in all the 50 tables,” Sharma informs.
My Square has partnered with Delhi based MapleGraph, which has built a custom software for the operation of the tablets. The software a built-in payment solution and will also be able to monitor number of transactions by a particular outlet on a particular day.
Along with reducing the time for ordering, the tablets will also contain features to keep consumers entertained until the orders are delivered.
“We are also in the process of adding some games onto the tablets. We will make these tablets as a mall directory; while waiting for delivery, consumers can play games and will get updates on ongoing offers , events and promotions in the mall,” Sharma says.
Clearly, the digital transformation of retail may not be necessarily all bad news for shopping centres. “On the contrary, it presents new opportunities for malls to engage consumers throughout their decision journeys,” Hoefel notes in her report. “There is ample opportunity for malls to decrease customer pain points, while simultaneously creating entirely new delight points.”