2018 experienced an immersive and experiential side of retail. It observed a journey that involved discovering and adopting marvels like the best of technology, entertainment, engagement, utility and data for both the consumer and retailer.
With an interesting shift in customer buying patterns, an increase in digital acceptance as well as technological advancements, the year saw a successful implementation of practices which were otherwise deemed to be a far-fetched dream. One of them is engaging in the concept of Phygital retail and the other, embracing the New Retail revolution. Both came into being in order to provide an immersive experience per square foot.
Interestingly, a number of retailers realized the importance of staying relevant in the market for the customer, which made them move toward a more viable change that literally altered the landscape of the industry. They came up with solutions that were being applied through the discovery of innovation and being followed by something even better to give an immersive, seamless, wholesome experience.
2018, gave a wonderful shopping experience with a great assortment of activation, products, and categories and brands.
According to an AT Kearney report titled The Future of Shopping Centers, the future for malls is to reimagine and reengineer malls and shopping centers as Consumer Engagement Spaces or CESs. The now outmoded idea of malls as places for retailers to push out product offerings into a mass market must be replaced by a pull-marketing approach where the mall is designed around the needs and interests of an increasingly diverse consumer market, often segmented by age, ethnicity and locality.
The major challenge for malls is to view retail spaces in a new way, not as primarily places to connect consumers with products, but as places where people engage with brands, experiences, entertainment, service providers, and even live and work.
The study suggests the industry can have a robust future provided it evolves and successfully harnesses three change drivers: the human element, technology, and commercial considerations.
It concludes by saying: CES operators and tenants must find ways to coexist with digital retailers, embracing them as partners rather than insisting on viewing them as enemies bent on disruption and unsustainable predatory price competition. To succeed in the future the industry needs to think like the customers it serves. For example, customers never think in terms of channels. Instead, they are task-oriented, always looking for the most economical and efficient way to complete their tasks.
Many shopping centre owners and operators around the world and in India are coming to grips with the fact that the consumer wants to be treated as the king. They understand that a mall is no longer a transactional place for a person, but for a consumer to have an immersive experience.
Shopping centres like DLF Shopping Malls are making sure that people are not just buying products but investing in experiences as well and they are working doubly hard to provide more and more superior experiences to attract customers.
Case Study: DLF Shopping Malls
DLF Shopping Malls have been instrumental in introducing many firsts to the industry this year. They pioneered a retail revolution within the country that brought about a paradigm shift which redefined shopping, recreation and leisure experiences for many. Their multi-faceted retail addresses have been delighting visitors with versatility, variety and premium quality for over a decade now. DLF Shopping Malls made not one but many radical yet effective changes in their approach, in order to go beyond an exceptional customer service, to an overall customer experience.
They have taken their retail journey forward through global partnerships and tie-ups to revolutionize the retail experience for consumers. They embarked upon a retail digitization journey based on the premise of ‘online to offline’ strategy spearheaded by strategic collaborations amongst others. To be precise, they tackled problems that would lay the foundations for smart malls, high on technology infrastructure, with extreme levels of interaction.
To begin with, it was the keen desire to be relatable and relevant in ways more than one, that made them start out by offering a host of services like valet parking, baby changing and baby feeding rooms, currency exchange options, pharmacy stores, access for differently able with assistance, wheelchairs, prams accessibility, tailoring services, dry cleaning, driver’s lounge, car wash services, child safety bands and what not. They met all levels of customer service, giving consumers an experience that touched all their senses before any other destination could.
This moved on to forming large ecosystem partnerships and collaborations, integrating brand value and engaging customers to the fullest in order to create a lasting and memorable experience that set a benchmark.
The other methods DLF Shopping Malls embarked upon to enhance touch, sight, sound, and taste to create the perfect blend of an interactive Phygital experience started right from the consumer’s trip to the mall with a collaboration with Uber – offering riders at 30 percent off and a hassle-free convenient commute experience across the mall’s portfolio. DLF Shopping Malls also started free Wi-Fi to ensure consumers are connected. They tied up with We Connect (South-east Asia’s best in-mall Wi-Fi experience) to provide a unified experience across all malls and make it a social sanctuary for teenagers. Partnership with leading internet service providers – Airtel, Vodafone and Idea – to provide free Wi-Fi services across malls brought together three major players for the very first time in order to share the ‘Demographic Data’ with DLF Shopping Malls within the ambit of Data Privacy Laws under the latest General Data Protection Regulation. This amalgamated the synergy and dispensed it in one place to give the right experience.
DLF Shopping Malls also seamlessly created a connected physical and digital ecosystem so consumers could discover experiences as they shopped, dined or entertained themselves. Digitization of the food courts by introducing wallets for easy payment, teaming up with banks and financial institutions for value payment alliances are some ways they used to reshape consumer expectations and connect the dots between physical and digital for the brand and various partners. For instance, collaboration with ICICI Bank credit card holders ensured customers to be entitled to a 10 percent cashback and the launch of Million Smiles campaign was – an exciting cashback offer exclusively available to SBI credit card holders.
The brand also envisioned empowering its retailers and consumers for a unified connect while offering a host of capabilities to enhance consumer experience. Partnering with the global e-commerce and tech giant, Alibaba redefined the shopping experience in India in one such way. DLF Shopping Malls also unveiled the industry’s first consumer analytics application to help retailers communicate with their consumers through ‘Lukout’ – a one-stop solution that offers highly personalised proximity based on engaging content in terms of latest looks, latest trends, as well as real-time location-based offers.
Lukout provides conveniences like one-touch parking payment, one-touch valet, one-touch concierge along with having its own social network for millions of consumers. For retailers, the app provides a disruptive platform to enable channel-based consumer targeting and further allows brands to host their virtual store fronts on Lukout to enhance discoverability. Retailers can also do device proximity campaigns to target consumers via Big Data powered analytics dashboards through the app. They can identify consumers who are always on the look-out for a holistic and seamless experience that is curated specifically for them and not mass produced through the app.
2019: The Way Ahead for DLF Shopping Malls
The retail revolution in India is at its peak, but there is so much left to achieve. 2018 saw data become more valuable to the retail sector than ever and this trend will continue to lead the way in 2019. Retailers will sell experiences at their stores, not just products. Stores that only provide styling, makeovers and sampling services will pop up in order to provide customers a delightful and memorable experience. The Internet of Things will make shopping easier, cheaper, and more convenient. Leveraging augmented reality, for customers to engage better will become a norm. Shopping opportunities will soon be available anywhere, anytime with options for purchasing products ‘on the go’
10 Years of DLF Shopping Malls
In 2018, DLF Shopping Malls celebrated 10 years of its retail presence in India. Being the ultimate fashion destination in Delhi/NCR, the malls celebrated fashion with its first edition of ‘Fashion Month’ – a curated platform for brands to showcase their autumn-winter collections. This one-month fashion gala saw top brands like Marks and Spencer’s, Mango, G star Raw, Minizmo, Meena Bazaar, DC Shoes, UCB, Bloom, Steve Madden, Celio, Tommy Hilfiger and Cover story, Simon Carter, Aldo, Promod, BHPC showcased their craftsmanship, interesting trends and the best of global aesthetics and contemporary silhouettes with modern interpretations from the world of fashion.
Food being the new fashion, DLF Shopping Malls also announced the First Edition of DLF Food Excellence Awards 2018 to recognize the ‘best-in-class’ F&B brands and individuals.
The brand’s leading fashion destination, DLF Promenade is also all set to celebrate 10 years and will host one of the biggest extravaganzas of the year. Fabulous events, offers, experiences and activities across fashion, family and entertainment verticals are in store for consumers in the mega event which starts in December 2018. This two-month long celebration promises to be absolutely superlative.