Inorbit Malls, a group company of the K. Raheja Corp, leads with an objective to not just create physical structures but also to influence lifestyles. The shopping centres under the Inorbit banner are committed to setting benchmarks in retailing in India.
Inorbit malls combine the knowledge of the Indian consumer as well as the evolving retail scenario and then use this knowledge towards its location strategy, in designing its structures, as well as in planning, and managing its retail environments.
Inorbit began its journey by opening its first mall in Mumbai’s Malad area to the public in early 2004. Since then, the brand has repeated its success with world class malls in Vashi – Navi Mumbai, Cyberabad – Hyderabad, Whitefield – Bangalore and Gorwa Road – Vadodara.
The malls have universal class and appeal and seek to provide a one-stop destination for fashion, lifestyle, food, and entertainment leading to an international experience.
Inorbit Malls have won more than 70+ awards since inception including India’s Most Trusted Mall by Brand Trust Report 2014 and have been recognized in various national & international forums like IMAGES, Asia Pacific Shopping Centre Awards, ICSC, Asia Consumer Engagement Forum, EFFIEs and ABBYs for their commitment in establishing community connect.
In an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing at India Retail Forum 2017, Rajneesh Mahajan, CEO, Inorbit Malls spills the beans on expansion plans, the implementation of technology, the future of theme malls and a lot more.
Elaborate on the importance of food courts in new-age malls.
Food as a component or a category is improving in terms of performance and slowly there is more allocation of space to F&B – whether it is restaurant space or food courts. So, I see this category growing, I see new concepts coming in this category and I see malls providing more space to food courts.
What is the future of retail real estate in India?
I generally say that I can retire in this industry. I actually see a bright future of retail real estate in India. If you compare with any developed country across the globe, the per person retail organised space is very less in India and I see it can grow exponentially to many-folds in coming years.
Elaborate on Inorbit Malls’ strategy to attract customers and to retain them.
We are looking at a better shopping experience, which delights the customer and keeps him coming back. We want our malls to become a part of the customer’s lifestyle. We are looking at upgrading the retail offering in terms of price points and better product offering. We are also looking at increasing the space allocation for F&B, entertainment and movies. I believe these are the new growth trends across the industry and we want to polish them to stay relevant to our consumers.
What is the future of theme malls in India?
So far we have not seen much success in theme malls category but I do believe that if the infrastructure improves in this country and people are able to travel a long distance and are able to travel in a larger volume opportunities will emerge for theme malls in India.
Typically, theme malls are a once-in-a-while visit places. They need to be located in relatively low cost land spaces which means they have to be situated on the outskirts. Despite being located on the outskirts, they still need all the infrastructure to support volumes of people – especially on peak days or weekends.
What are your expansion plans? Have you implemented any new technology in your malls of late?
We do not have anything to announce immediately, but we are looking forward to adding two to three more malls to our kitty in the next two years.
On the technology front, we are doing a lot. We are the first mall in the country – and maybe one of the very few in the global space – to have gone Omnichannel. We are still scaling up that operation and looking at adding more retailers along with offering their products online.
We are increasing our digital community building efforts and are connecting with younger audiences on a more immediate basis – through social media and our mobile app.
We are also investing a lot in technology to understand our consumers and to stay connected with them and to bring in offers that really excite them instantly as they shop. We want to use technology to give our consumers more – more information, more offers and more enjoyment.
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. If you see in Malad, we have a very large entertainment zone since the last 13 years. We have never felt the need to get rid of it since it rakes in a high footfall which turns into good business.
In Hyderabad, we have gone a step ahead and have built two entertainment zones – one is SMAAASH and the other is Fun City. Both are large format entertainment zones and they both do different business.
In Vadodra, the FEC zone plays a huge role in attracting teenagers to the mall.
I feel FECs have become a necessity since they attract heavy footfalls – especially young kids who then drive their whole families to the mall.
Do you think that the success of a mall depends on its location strategy?
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 a mall’s location. The right location, coupled with the right offering, provides the right mix in attracting consumers.
Given the rapid rise of e-commerce, what is the future of shopping malls in India?
Our total supply of malls is still low as compared to some of the developed countries and 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 the coming years.
E-commerce has impacted the overall size of organised retail by growing it further in India. We need to look at it as a positive impact on the retail industry. I feel both offline and online retail are simply helping each other, and pushing the market into a growth cycle.