Pacific Mall is a part of Pacific India, a reputed business group with presence in real estate, hospitality and education verticals. The group’s flagship mall in Tagore Garden is a 6-lakh sq.ft. premium shopping, entertainment and leisure destination hosting more than 140 national and international brands in the country. In an exclusive interview with IMAGES Retail, Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific India, discusses the strategies his mall has adopted to become of Delhi’s top lifestyle destinations…
The Journey So Far:
We are a one-stop lifestyle destination for the complete family offering a bouquet of global brand experience under one roof gainfully engaging the people of Delhi NCR. The mall regularly interacts with the customers and conducts research and interactive surveys to ensure that the data analysed can be utilised with valuable customer insights to help us prioritise on brand mix and areas of focus and investment.
Elements of Success:
The mall management encompasses the process of conceptualisation, positioning, zoning, deciding the tenant mix, promotional activities and marketing of the mall as well as facility and finance management. All these put together ensure that the mall targets the right audience, and garners the correct responses from them not only to make the mall a successful place, but also to ensure that the retailers gain maximum benefit. According to me, the most important of these are:
LOCATION: An ideal location is a good catchment area – with research on the affordable levels of the residents – without other malls around. An analysis on the kind of alternatives a resident in the catchment area has is also necessary.
RETAIL TENANT MIX: Some mall developers fashionably develop a luxury mall, not understanding that the people in the catchment area may not be able to afford the products on offer. A developer has to realise that a mall is a localised business and he has to keep in mind the kind of retail mix he wants to have while planning a mall. One big problem which most malls face today in India is the absence of midsized retail companies. These need to be included.
PROJECT VIABILITY: Not so long ago, developers and retail companies had a standoff over rentals. While it is a big deal to get the pricing right, we are now seeing a change in the attitude of both. For instance, mall developers and retail companies have begun implementing what are now popularly called ‘revenue share agreements’. This in a way puts the onus of making the mall successful on the developer as well. With this trend picking up, developers have begun realising the importance of involving mall experts who not only do the research before construction to decide whether or not a mall is needed, but also help in the design elements till tenancy stage and to managing the day to day running of the mall, including disaster management.
Customer Rules All:
A mall’s 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 and 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.
Today, 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. Pacific mall has been aggressive in creating specialised marketing events and our quality of marketing activities is different and unique. We focus on a lot of international performances. To name a few Queen’s Wednesday, Live acts such as magician shows, jugglers, acrobat, unicycle acts on every second and fourth Saturday of the month. Every Friday turns into Musical Fridays at Plaza. We are also a favourite host for Auto Arcade every year.
The mall has created many larger than life replica’s during special events like replica of Qutub Minar on Independence Day, life size submarine was created for summer workshop, replica of Taj Mahal was built for Valentine’s Day and the tallest Eiffel Tower for Christmas Celebrations.
We offer various convenience services to our shoppers such as ticket booking, currency change, bill payments, tailoring services, phone repair, travel services etc. these and similar activities help us fortify our bond with our 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 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 to continuously train and groom on roll and out sourced staff to establish high standards in customer interaction and experience.
Pacific Mall’s Location Strategy
Location plays an important role in the success of mall. Getting a prime location is the first criteria to the success of a mall. An ideal location would be one with a good catchment area, without other malls around. Research on the affordability levels of the people who live in the area and the kind of shopping and entertainment alternatives they have is also a must, before a developer decides to build a mall.
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.
The Importance of Zoning
Zoning refers to the division of mall space into zones for the placement of various retailers. A mall is dependent on the success of its tenants, which translates to the financial feasibility of the tenant in the mall. Right tenant mix and optimum retailer placement after a diligent zoning exercise can help retailers attract all types of consumers.
A zoning exercise, if done properly, helps in building a separate image in the minds of the visitors. This also helps influence shoppers’ mall preferences and frequency of visits, which is critical considering the robust upcoming supply of shopping centres. Targeting both pre-planned shoppers and impulse visitors is critical if the shopping centre is to achieve higher conversions and thereby, higher sales for its tenants.
Why Brands Choose Malls Over High Streets
Malls and the high-streets each have their merits and shortcomings. However, brands today prefer malls for many reasons:
– Malls afford a more family experience while a high-street is more convenient for individual shopping. With cinemas, entertainment activities, F&B, events etc., malls have become centres of family outings apart from shopping.
– Malls offer you the convenience of parking which is very difficult on a high-street.
– Most successful malls have mastered the art of zoning which makes it very easy for customers to shop across brands in the same category. At the same time, it results in creation of markets for the retailers which promotes cross selling across categories and brands.
– Impulse buy is higher in mall than on a high street.
– On a high-street, marketing is an individual effort and could be costly and /or ineffective as it is unorganised. Malls have events around festivals, occasions and themes. Many a brand, movies, products have their promotions and launches in a mall, many a times with celebrities. Malls spend money are able to create an environment and ambience that is a magnet. These along with neighbourhood advertising attract a lot of footfalls.
– Most malls have anchor tenants who take up large spaces and also which attracts a lot of customers. Hypermarkets or departmental stores too find it easy to operate from malls for the relatively lower cost of rentals and the availability of large sizes which are impossible to get on high streets
– Apart from that rentals on a good high street are prohibitively expensive and there too the availability of space is limited. Malls have relatively cheaper rentals and can accommodate many brands. Additionally malls have flexible rental models like revenue sharing which is a plus for the retailer.
– Malls also have most permits available so an individual retailer is spared the headache and hassles.
– Many a high-street stores are tenanted properties which preclude them from sub-letting hence they ask for a franchisee model which all brands may not be comfortable with.
– Lastly, getting staff to work in a store in a mall is easier than on a high street for the conveniences and amenities that a mall provides. Toilets, change rooms, food courts and the safety are important to staff.
International Brands vs Homegrown Brands
Space allocated in a mall and zoning of brands is not dependent on whether it is a foreign brand or an Indian company. 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. It is important to adopt and be up-to-date with the trends and changing dynamics and influencers today.
India’s shopping centre landscapes have been drastically changing over the years with brands like Zara becoming anchor tenants, and not the traditional supermarket, department store.
Brands like Zara, H&M, Gap, Sephora and Starbucks bring in the footfalls and keep the malls buzzing. They also bring the moolah for the malls as most of them currently operate on a revenue-sharing basis with brands. That’s is why all the successful malls in India are keen to have the above global brands in their shopping centres. However, homegrown brands are doing extremely well in the retail space.
The future of retail 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.
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. 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.
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.
The Role of F&B in Generating Footfall
Food and beverages have evolved from being retail’s poor cousin to the sector with the dominating edge. Food is a major footfall driver, and food courts give single customers and entire families the option of partaking of a variegated choice of cuisine. As such, they are often a primary reason for people to visit malls in the first place. Since they are usually on the top floor, customers are required to pass all floors below to access them. This increases the opportunities for impulse shopping. Food courts also boost overall sales because they offer panoramic views of what is available at the lower levels, thereby raising aspirational levels
Malls Turning into Family Entertaining Centres
Malls are no longer just shopping destinations. They 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 provide 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, malls are moving towards play zones and engaging events, like celebrations, special campaigns, shows, summer workshops music concerts etc.
Experiences: Phygital, Personalisation, & Intelligent Tech
Shopping experience has become sophisticated with the advancement of web technologies. Not only are individual brands putting more focus on e-commerce and mobile, but we’re also now seeing shopping centers adapt to the digital customer.
Being a premium shopping and leisure destination with very high footfall, the experience that a customer has once he or she enters the gate is of prime importance to us. We have invested in state of the art security management service and surveillance systems and they are one of the biggest enablers for us in maintaining our performance and meeting customer expectations
Some innovative technological programs deployed by Pacific Mall are:
– Completely automated system for logging and tracking of complaints
– Use of advanced software for mall management operations and for tracking, audits and data management
– Centralised one-point-system to track consumption of all utilities
– International mall management company to help maintain high standards
– Cloud-based applications to empower teams to help them be more productive and efficient.
– State of the art security management service and surveillance systems
– 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.
The Future of Shopping Centres
The retail industry has witnessed substantial growth and progress in the past few years. Due to some of the recent policy changes including liberalisation, 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 Omnichannel 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.’