Rajneesh Mahajan, the Executive Director, Inorbit Malls India Pvt. Ltd. is responsible for business expansion, oversees the operations, ensures that the services offered by the organization contribute to the organization’s mission and reflect the priorities of the Board and improving customer experience.
Mahajan was previously the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Inorbit Malls and has been associated with the group since last six years. During his tenure as COO, he guided the overall performance and growth of the organization in a dynamic retail and real estate industry.
Mahajan brings with him an all-round experience in the retail industry. With his vivid experience and aggressive strategies, he has facilitated Inorbit Malls to accomplish its prospective endeavors.
Mahajan has been previously associated with Cushman and Wakefield and Barista.
In an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing Bureau, Rajneesh Mahajan talks about the future of Inorbit Malls, the importance of location strategy, FECs and a lot more.
Inorbit Malls is tying up with Pretr to convert the mall into an Omnichannel Mall. Tell us about this partnership.
Pretr is the technology and back-end service provider and with the help of Pretr, we will be linking the brands present in the mall to offer their products online. Presently, we have around 35 brands which have collaborated. The consumers can buy their products online. And when they place an order, the Pretr team will pick up their orders from the store and deliver it to their homes. Depending upon the availability of the product, it may take 24 to 48 hours to deliver the product to the customer’s doorstep.
What other technologies have you embraced and leveraged in Inorbit malls?
In terms of consumer services, we have e-commerce availability now available at Malad mall and we will soon be integrating it at Vashi mall and then it will be rolled out to other cities.
In terms of consumer’s feedback and connect we are looking at the entire new social media and digital connect to be done. Our new website and new mobile app will be launched very soon which is currently in the testing mode. It will provide an interactive platform for social interaction online which will help us in reaching out to consumers digitally to spread out our messages fast. It will update the consumers about the discounts and offers offered by the brands inside the mall. The customers can also make booking in spas and restaurants and a lot many features are getting incorporated which will aid ease of shopping and experience. The app will be up and running for the consumers by the end of April.
Which are the new brands which you are planning to bring to Inorbit malls?
Introducing new brands is a continuous process. Every year 7-10 per cent of the brands go through a change and the change is done through a proper understanding of what kind of categories and price-points are growing and the brands which are not growing and whose tenures are coming to an end are replaced with the brands and categories that are moving faster.
In Malad, we brought in a lot of women western wear as a category. So we have brands like KAZO, CoverStory, Forever New, Twelve, AND, Vero Moda and Only. In cosmetics, we got Bobbi Brown and Mina – which is the first store in the country of a cosmetic brand. In fashion and accessories, we have Steve Madden and in lingerie we have Hunkemoller coming in.
If you look at Hyderabad, more fashion have been added at different times like Aeropostale, Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, Only, Wills Lifestyle, US Polo. In the women ethnic wear category, we gave a bigger store to BIBA and Trends Women first in the country opened in Hyderabad.
Similarly in Vadodra, more fashion coming in like Aeropostale. This category is doing well here as well.
So, mall by mall changes keep on happening.
Will we see more popular foreign brands in your mall or will you give more space to homegrown brands in the future?
Instead of deciding on foreign brands or homegrown brands, the mall gives space to the brand which is performing well.
We gave more space to AND, FabIndia in Malad. We also gave more space to FabIndia in Hyderabad. So the debate is not between Indian or international brands. The debate is where the consumer is moving and which brand has strong connect with the consumers. So, the brands that have a strong connect with the consumers will get prominence.
Even if you look at cosmetics, Forest Essentials which is a home-grown brand is doing well. So, we gave it space in Hyderabad, Malad and Bengaluru and we are planning to bring it in Vadodra in some time.
How important is it to turn a mall into an FEC zone in today’s time?
FEC has always been an integral part in our malls. So if you see in Malad, we have a very large entertainment zone since last 13 years back it continues to be there as it contributes to good footfall which turns into good business.
In Hyderabad, we have gone a step ahead and we have two entertainment zones – one is SMAAASH and other is Fun City. Both are large format entertainment zones and they both do different business.
In Vadodra, FEC zone play a big role in attracting teenagers to the mall.
FEC have become a necessity as it helps in attracting the footfall and specially attract young kids who drive the family into the mall.
What kind of support services do you offer to customers?
For customer convenience there are multiple services that are there. We have valet parking in all the malls. We also have bag park where the customers can park their bags if they do not want to carry it while shopping.
In Malad, we are testing a new service where the consumers can drop their shopping bags and we will deliver them to their homes. We are looking at the facility, which I am not sure if we will be able to launch immediately or not, where customer do not need to come to the mall if they want to get something exchanged like the size of a particular dress which they have bought from a retailer of our mall. We are still testing the viability of this service.
Then there are gift wrappings available, a communication room is also there where people can go and make calls and talk.
What is the importance of food courts in the new age malls?
We have had a great success with our food courts across all malls. Value and the volume of the business that we do from them is really interesting.
Food courts give consumer an option to decide what they really would like to eat and it also proves to be a quick option when the customer is in a hurry.
Does the success of a mall depends on its location strategy? Please elaborate.
Expansion of the mall is driven by the availability of the related households in a pocket in a micromarket. Inroad infrastructure, easy accessibility of the location and of course in today’s time the size of the development plays a big role in deciding upon the location. Right location with the right offering provides the right mix in attracting the consumer.
Your mall in Pune was reportedly cleared of all brands in November last year. What happened?
We had a very good set of brands with us in Pune but when we look at ourself in that micromarket where 60-70 per cent of the total mall supply of the city came up in one micromarket and that is a lot of pressure on one micromarket from the aspect of consumption and secondly we were a small mall in our micromarket and it also did not excite consumers much as they think bigger malls offer more options.
Where are you planning on relocating in the city?
We are very bullish about growth in Pune market and if given an opportunity to open Inorbit in Pune again then we would be open to that.
Given the rapid rise of e-commerce, what is the future of shopping malls in India?
Our total supply of malls is still less as compared to some of the developed countries and the entire organised retail as a business is really small. So we see a lot of growth coming in and I think both e-commerce and malls will see tremendous growth in coming years.
E-commerce has impacted the overall size of the organised retail by growing it further in India and it is a positive impact. And both of them are helping each other in growing the market bigger.