Malls no more just shopping destinations

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Apart from buying branded clothes and accessories, mall goers today want an unparalleled shopping experience combined with never-ending entertainment, fun and food. As customers look for a holistic experience, it’s important to engage with them on an emotional level to create the right connect, says Executive Director, Pacific India, Abhishek Bansal.
Share your overview of the current retail real estate scenario in India. What can you say about the state of shopping malls?   
During the last few years, retail marketing has witnessed substantial growth and the Indian retail industry has made significant progress aligning a vast range of items from across categories under one roof. Due to liberalisation of the FDI policy, major international and global players have now entered the country’s retail space with ambitious plans to expand in the future years across verticals and cities. Also, e-commerce is here to stay and grow, but there is room for all.
As per industry experts nearly 60 per cent of shopping malls in key cities across India are under-performing, as they are unable to keep up with competition from e-commerce and new shopping malls offering sophisticated retail experience to customers.
The new Indian consumer is spending his money 30 per cent more than the previous generation and we need to encourage them to spend more by offering the right mix of brands and services.
Tell us about Pacific Mall. How many locations do you have at present?
Pacific Mall is a part of Pacific India, one of India’s reputed business groups with presence in real estate, hospitality and education verticals. It is positioned as a premium, shopping, entertainment and leisure destination hosting more than 130 national and international brands.
Currently we operate three malls, out of which two are situated at Tagore Garden and Sahibabad in New Delhi; and one in Dehradun in Uttrakhand, covering a total retail area of 12 lakh sq. ft.  Pacific Tagore Garden and Pacific Sahibabd span an area of 5.5 lakh sq. ft. and 4 lakh sq. ft respectively whereas Pacific Dehradun has an area of 2.5 lakh sq. ft. to its credit.
We have been growing exponentially and increasing in footfall year on year with the right mix of branded shopping, premium brands, high street goods, as well as the essentials like fine dining, value marts, entertainment zones etc. In fact, we get a lot of inquiries from online brands now to open outlets in our malls, as they feel they need to be present in both the verticals.
Malls no more just shopping destinationsWhat are your key focus areas?   
Gone are the days when shopping malls were considered as retail centers offering multitudes of retail shopping outlets as today consumers visit shopping malls not only to shop designer clothes and accessories but are also looking for an unparalleled shopping experience combined with never-ending entertainment, fun and food.
We constantly try to provide wholesome family entertainment apart from best of shopping experience to all our customers. We have tied up an international mall management company to help us maintain highest standards at our malls.  This involves continuous renovations and up-gradation of customer service areas to enhance customer experience, introduction of C1 (Customer First program) program to continuously train and groom on roll and out sourced staff to establish high standards in customer interaction and experience. Keeping in mind all the customers that visit the mall we have a plethora of services to maximize their experiences here such as:

  • New services such Pram service, Kids WC seats etc.
  • Convenience services such as wheel chair at all major entry points, florist, car spa, kids play area, baby changing and mother care room, ATMs, valet parking etc.
  • Monthly reward & recognition program for all our agency staff to boost their morale who in turn provide exceptional service to our customers hence keeping us a notch above competition.

Brief us on the technology integration efforts at Pacific Mall.
Being a premium mall with high footfall, we have invested in state-of-the-art security management service and surveillance systems. Latest in technology and operational systems are one of the biggest enablers for us and we have deployed some of the latest innovative programs in technology such as the completely automated system for logging and tracking of complaints, use of advanced software for mall management and operations for tracking, audits and data management, centralised one point system to track consumption of all utilities throughout the mall.
Global economic slowdown is cause for concern for Indian malls too; what’s your take on it?  
No doubt, economic slowdown and increase in smartphone penetration fueling e-commerce has led to a situation where the under-performing malls are shutting down or undergoing a change in business metamorphosis. The good news is that the consumer is spoilt for choice among national and international brands across all categories. But these challenges call for challenging measures and change in business practices keeping abreast with the changing scenario.
What steps have you taken to ensure long-term sustainable success?
Our locations and the vicinity are a definite plus and we have continuously progressed over the years thanks to the popularity of our services, ROI and value proposition and best in customer experience and satisfaction. We regularly interact with our customers and conduct research and surveys to ensure that we get the right data on consumer touch points to help us prioritise on the brand mix and areas of investment. By focusing on specific consumer segments, we are able to create specific zones for customers with specific requirements like high-density brands, value marts, celebration zones, kid zones etc. Our periodic events and promotions are a mix of category-specific and catchment events.
Many long-existing malls in India need to reinvent to suit the tastes of today’s shoppers. How do you plan to keep in step with times?
Now, malls are no longer just shopping destinations! Customers look for a holistic experience and it is important to engage with them on an emotional level to create the right connect. Now we are moving from movies to play zones to much more engaging events, like Yoga Day, which we celebrated on June 21 this year, annual Planet Pacific summer workshop, special events like RD Burman Nite with music concert etc. We offer various convenience services to our shoppers such as ticket booking, currency change, bill payments etc. these and similar activities help us fortify our bond with our customers.
Malls evolution is a continuous process. Over the years we have seen numerous new brands being developed within the country and a lot of international brands entering the Indian market. The shopping centers need to continuously keep upgrading their tenant mix in order to provide the community the latest in fashion and lifestyle and making reservations for other finer aspects like food and entertainment.
Tell us about your new marketing plans and future tie-ups.
When a customer visits a mall he or she is not just looking at making a purchase but an experience, a place to spend quality time with family and friends.  Marketing activities and events at Pacific are meticulously planned and well thought-out. It is a healthy mix of both festive as well as non-festive events where we try to maintain a fine balance between being strictly non-disruptive to just enough events that will keep our customers engaged so that they come back for more.
We at Pacific Mall value our business partners therefore most of our marketing initiatives are a step towards allowing them to target the clientele, and tailoring events, promotions, festival celebrations and international days, to enable them to maximise on these opportunities. Most of our events are conceptualised and carried out annually year after year as they are very popular with our customers and there is huge demand for more. Some of these like our annual summer workshops for kids and the annual EOSS (end of season sale) are very popular with people.
How do you foresee the mall culture evolving in India in the coming 5-10 years? Please share your expansion plans and interest markets.
The smaller cities are waiting for the mall experience to happen. People now frequently travel to the metros and majority of them have been to a mall with their families. The Pacific Mall at Dehradun has been an eye opener for us in terms of the opportunity and demand that lies in the tier I and II cities. The spending power has always been there these are opportunities waiting to be explored. Pacific Group is also looking at some of these markets for future expansion and currently a study is underway as to which markets will be the right ones to enter into.

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