Gone are the days when going to a mall meant simply a day out shopping. Today, a mall is synonymous to a community hub, a place to spend time with the family, to relax, indulge in fun and games, eat great food and occasionally shop some. One brand which provides all these options to its patrons – and much more – is Infiniti Mall.
While the mall’s primary responsibility is to provide premium service, ambience, amenities, and a secure and comfortable environment to guests, Mukesh Kumar, Senior VP, Infiniti Malls, believes in merging technology with infrastructure retail through Omnichannel concepts like click-and-pick, POS-based loyalty programs, and brand promotions at customer’s finger tips.
In an exclusive interview with Shopping Centre News Bureau, Kumar revealed Infiniti’s Omnichannel plans, the stress on Phygital retail and their expansion plans…
Describe the journey of Infiniti Malls.
The first-ever Infiniti Mall was launched in 2004 at Andheri (W) when the shopping mall trend in India had just begun. We were probably the second in Mumbai with multiple retail stores covering almost all categories including Cinema, Electronics, Food & Grocery, Books, Fashion, Spa, Footwear and Food. It was a compact and cozy mall and attracted people from Bandra to Borivili. The mall attracted huge footfalls since it offered something for everyone. Seeing the great success and growing demand of our patrons, we launched our second mall at Malad. This mall is much larger in terms of area and has more international brands across various categories. Though both the malls are in the same city and not far apart, we have ventured into two different arenas of consumers in terms of brands, marketing and operations.
How is the USP of Infinti Andheri different from Malad?
Whilst both the malls are a great mix of fashion, lifestyle, food and entertainment, they differ in-terms of location and target consumer. A convenient connectivity by road, metro and train makes Infiniti Mall at Andheri a preferred destination for the younger crowd and family whereas Millennials prefer venturing to Infiniti Mall Malad because of a wider variety of brands across various categories. Infiniti Mall, Andheri is promoted more as a neighborhood mall whereas Malad is more of a regional center. Having said that, both the malls are good choices for all age groups, all members of a family.
Infiniti Mall was one of the first few malls that decided to go Omnichannel. How has been the outcome so far?
We are among the first few malls in India that planned to launch a ‘click-and-collect’ model covering almost all stores present within. We also plan to launch a more enhanced customer friendly loyalty program where earning and burning points will happen at the POS itself.
Give us examples of ways in which you have gone Omnichannel.
Our Omnichannel module is going through a final test, a final dry run. The customer will have a choice of blocking the product online from the entire inventory of the store and picking it from the store offline. The loyalty program is a customer friendly platform that bids more than just shop and gain points. It provides a complete map of our latest offers and promotions to the patrons that allows them to shop in much more convenient way. We have taken a step forward and soon it will be available at the POS of multiple retail units offering earning and burning points in real time.
Stores are increasingly going digital – taking the e-commerce route to make sure their products have a wider reach. Are you comfortable with your retailers advertising their e-commerce portals in their shops inside your mall?
We are an offline model, we believe touch-and-feel model is the best shopping experience for customers. We agree stores are increasingly advertising their e-commerce portals in their shops to make sure their products have a wider reach and hence we are developing our Omnichannel model that is click and order to get a better customer experience under one roof. Any online promotions from the offline stores are generally restricted.
What role does customer centricity, phygital experience, personalisation play in keeping a customer engaged? How is Infiniti different from others?
Physical retail is always important as it gives touch-and-feel to the customers. Personalisation and engagement are required to highlight the benefi ts of a product to the customer. This is more or less managed by retail outlets at our mall. While our responsibility is to provide better service, ambience, amenities, and a secure
and comfortable environment to our guests, we also believe in merging technology with infrastructure retail through Omnichannel concepts like click-and-pick, POS-based loyalty programs, and brand promotions at customer’s finger tips.
Tell us about the technological innovations in your mall that help enhance consumer experience.
We have interactive kiosks on all floors for customer assistance. Additionally, we have a mobile application for our loyalty customers. They can upload bills and earns point through this application and also check current offers running at the mall on phone. Apart from this there are parking sensors which indicate the availability of slots in the parking area. These sensors are updated instinctively as and when a car leaves the slot or is parked there. The sensors help customers find vacant slots with ease.
West India, especially Mumbai has a plethora of premium malls. How do you cope with the fierce competition for footfalls and profit?
Today, malls are not just considered as shopping destinations, but are complete community hubs. Infiniti Mall brings experiences extraordinaire to influence its consumers’ lifestyles.
Our mall has successfully built upon a diverse retailer base considering the growing awareness and brand consciousness among people across different socio-economic classes. Infiniti Malad is one of the biggest malls in Mumbai suburbs with more than 200 national and international brands under one roof. We conduct various events throughout the year coinciding with national and international festivals like Diwali, Christmas, Dahi Handi, Republic Day, Independence Day etc. We also have a month-long Summer Fiesta, Monsoon Magic, and Christmas Carnival. This is to ensure that patrons get to see something new whenever they come to the mall.
What initiatives do you take to pull in crowds in the non-festive season? Give some examples.
From organising workshops such as Thrilling Thursday to Friday Jamming, Super Saturday to Musical Beats the mall leaves no stone unturned to provide a great experience to its consumers. Also, the mall keeps hosting various movie promotions that helps
increasing brand awareness among its audiences. Also, in order to make our mall buzzing, we host a number of events like the Taiwan Excellence Gaming Cup, The Culture Show, Auto Show, Make in India Fashion Show, and Mast Monsoon to name a few. Additionally, in the coming months, we will be hosting the Malad Run as well as Season 3 of the Auto Show.
Are you planning on introducing new brands – national or international – to any of your properties? Which ones?
We have recently added new brands like Columbia, W, Asics, Croma, Cadini and Beligan Waffle to name a few. This is an ongoing process and brands are regularly added to make sure the mall stays fresh.
Elaborate on the importance of food courts and the role F&B plays in the shopping mall.
The relevance and connect to consumer is paramount. Malls are no longer primarily about shopping but a place where consumers are looking for experiences that go well beyond traditional shopping. F&B plays a very important role in ensuring that consumers spend more time in the mall. Our F&B offering is such that it attracts people from all age and section of the society. Demand for retail space during 2017-18 is expected to be dominated by fashion and F&B. While international retailers are likely to dominate the fashion segment, the F&B segment, is likely to be a healthy mix of domestic and global operators across the QSR, café, brewery and casual dining formats. Besides these categories, Family Entertainment Centers (FECs) and multiplex operators are also going to be active in leasing space at existing and upcoming malls in 2017-18.
What are your expansion plans? Any plans to open malls in other cities?
We are looking to grow our portfolio in various other cities including Delhi NCR.
Where do you see Infiniti Malls in the next five years? What do you aspire to be perceived as by the stakeholders?
Infiniti Malls are established as premium, lifestyle destinations to make a difference by offering infi nite experiences. This statement defi nes our future goals. We are continuously concentrating on enhancing unique experiences for our patrons and are focused on adding value to all the stakeholders.