The Indian mall is evolving. From being a simple shopping destination, it has become a family entertainment zone – a place where families eat, shop and indulge in leisure activities, a place where families spend quality time together.
The fear that the Indian shopping mall will lose its sheen with the meteoric rise of e-commerce in the subcontinent, has been so far, unfounded. Despite the fact that online shopping has not deterred the Indian mall rat, mall owners are striving hard to provide consumers with an unparalleled experience, a heady mixture of shopping, fun, food and activities.
“The future of retail,” says Executive Director, Pacific India, Abhishek Bansal, “is Omnichannel. This trend towards an Omnichannel strategy will enable retailers to re-think their business strategy in order to tap the best of both worlds and maximise on footfalls.”
In an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing Bureau, Abhishek Bansal talks about Pacific Mall’s Omnichannel strategy, how each mall maintains its uniqueness and the importance of FECs, food courts and location as factors of success.
How do you ensure that each mall maintains its uniqueness?
Over the years, customer preferences have undergone a metamorphosis, influenced by a global influx of brands, growing economy, increase in customer spending and demand for the latest trends in fashion, fitness, dining and lifestyle. Pacific Mall, is one of the most popular and preferred complete family entertainment and lifestyle destination in Delhi NCR today. Over the years Pacific Mall has become synonymous with entertainment, fine dining and the latest collection of brands and trends in fashion and lifestyle. We have increased our focus on creating niche campaigns and events for our customers based on their feedback and preferences.
What is your vision moving forward for the premium segment in your malls?
Customers look for a holistic experience when they are out, and it is important to engage with them on an emotional level to establish that connect. Our customers know for a fact that if they want to shop for the latest collections or designer lines by premium brands and designers, Pacific Mall is the place to be in. We associate with the best of brands in the industry that cater to our clientele’s demands. This year we have planned a whole new set of campaigns and activities that will prove how serious we are when it comes to the premium segment at the mall. There is an exciting line-up of new retail and restaurant brands at the mall, adding to the shopping and leisure experience. This will be coupled with activities like wedding showcases and fashion shows involving high street and top brands present in the mall.
What new brands are planning to introduce in your malls this year?
Starting this summer, the Mall will be home to some of the top brands not only nationally, but internationally. A few brands that have been added to the list are Max, Meena Bazaar, Aeropostale, Only, Twelve AM:PM, Steve Madden, Hamleys, Baggit, Arrow Sports, Asics, Café Delhi Heights, Sugar & Spice, Khan Chacha, Sizzler Café, Street Foods of India by Punjab Grill, amidst others. Recently Decathlon also opened a mega store here at the Mall much to the delight of all our fitness and sports enthusiasts.
Will Indian brands be given as much space in your malls as foreign anchor brands?
Space allocated at the mall and zoning of brands is not dependent on whether it is a foreign brand or an Indian one. The right tenant mix, space allocation, knowledge of catchment and an intelligent approach to Customer shopping preferences that is backed by quality knowledge and market research helps us come up with the most sought after brands. It is important to adopt and be up-to-date about trends and changing dynamics and influencers today.
How important is location as a mall opening strategy?
Location is important as it is key to the success and sustainability of any retail business. You need to be where your target audience is and if the location is not so then the need to be well connected, accessible and reachable becomes a prerogative. A prime location makes a lot of difference to the brand growth and sales. Luckily we are not only well placed but well connected as well, both by public and private transport.
Tell us about Family Entertainment Centres and their importance in malls?
Malls are no longer just shopping destinations. When a consumer visits a Mall, they look for experiences that surpass conventional shopping and are more about entertainment and spending quality time with family and friends. Shopping malls are maximising on digital technology and enhancing customer engagement to stimulate footfalls besides boosting sales as these factors form a vital aspect of their business strategy. They are providing customers with a wide array of national and global brands, besides enabling them to enjoy with their family and friends. Apart from Big box retail we are also moving towards play zones and engaging events, like celebrations, special campaigns, Shows, Summer workshops, music concert, etc.
How imperative is it that you have a food court in your mall?
In current scenario food courts in mall are very imperative. Today, every mall gets judged, apart from other factors, by the food and cuisine that is available in it. No matter why a person is coming to a mall – whether to do shopping, on a movie date or for a scrumptious dinner, he/she will definitely pay attention to the food brands as no fun is complete by the food. As per IEBF, the Indian food market is approximately worth INR 2,50,000 crore ($69.4 billion) while value-added food products comprise a market worth of INR 80,000 Crore: so yes, food courts are very important in today’s market.
What support services are you offering customers?
Being a premium high-end shopping and entertainment destination we have invested in state of the art security management service and surveillance systems and an International Mall Management company (PPZ) to help us maintain these high standards at the mall. We have a plethora of services to maximize their experiences here such as …
- Convenience services such as Wheel Chair at All Major Entry Points, Car Spa, Kids Play Area, Baby Changing and Mother Care Room, ATMs, Valet Parking Etc.
- New services such as Pram service, Kids WC seats have been added recently to further enhance customer experience
- Periodic Retailers’ Reward & Recognition program to recognize the contribution of our retail partners in success of the mall and motivate them to perform better
- Monthly Reward& Recognition program for all agency staff to boost their morale who in turn provide exceptional service to our customer hence keeping us a notch above competition
Inorbit is going Omnichannel with the help of Pretr. Ambience Mall has also gone the Omnichannel way. Any such tie ups in sight as far as Pacific Malls are concerned?
Omnichannel is the way forward for the future and Pacific is definitely not getting left behind. We are in the process of implementing it and one will probably hear about it in more details in the next 60 to 90 days. We want to ensure that customers have a seamless experience and towards that end the beta version is already under the testing phase. It will be launched once it is fully tested and complies with our high standards.
What are the technical advancements that you have embraced and leveraged in your malls?
Support services are the backbone of any successful retail establishment today, be it shopping malls or mixed-use retail developments. Technology plays an important role and increasingly mall owners are adapting the latest that technology has to offer in terms of management and engagement solutions.
We use Cloud based applications to empower teams to help them deliver higher productivity & efficiency. This includes services like Real time CSI & RSI Mgmt. System, Fit-out Mgmt. application, Automated Daily Sales Report (ADSR), Leasing & SOH Inventory Mgmt., Retailer Analytics System and customer analytics, Task & Snag Mgmt. application to name a few. 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, centralized one point system to track consumption of all utilities throughout the mall.
We have invested in state of the art security management service and surveillance systems and an International Mall Management company (PPZ) to help us maintain these high standards at mall. 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.
What does the future of retail holds for the malls of tomorrow?
The retail industry has witnessed substantial growth and progress in the past few years. Due to some of the recent policy changes including liberalization, disinvestment, FDI policy, GST implementation, major international and global players have shown a keen interest to set shop with ambitious plans to expand in the future cities. In the recent years the sector witnessed two distinct channels gains prominence mainly brick and mortar and e-commerce. Though growing smart phone penetration and burgeoning online retail platforms have created diversions, offline retail is here to stay. The trend towards an Omni channel strategy will enable retailers to re-think their business strategy in order to tap the best of both worlds and maximise on footfalls giving the perfect customer experience.