How does a mall recognise the needs of its catchment area? How does it provide facilities that convert visitors into buyers? For malls across the globe, finding tenants is perhaps easier than bringing in footfalls which translate into sales. With the Indian shopping mall industry on a growth trajectory, it is even more essential to bring in paying visitors and to do that, malls need to provide potential shoppers with facilities par excellence, along with retail outlets.
Providing and maintaining top class services and facilities in malls is not an easy task and most developers have a mall manager and a mall management team in place for the same. Mall management has been identified as a critical factor for the success of malls in India and across the world.
Managing a mall is a mammoth task to say the least and has got several variants. There was a point in time, when malls were just coming up in India and the industry was at a nascent stage,that mall management was limited to facility and service management and gaps in the process went unnoticed. However, as organised retail grew, the market became more competitive and developers worked hard to differentiate themselves from others. Faulty mall management along with inappropriate tenant mix led to poor mall traffic and closure of individual stores in malls.
As the shopping mall business grew and became competitive, mall developers not only started noticing these gaps and errors but executed these gaps on a large scale to ensure the success of their projects in the long run.
From hereon, the inception of third-party mall management service providers system came into existence in India. Most mall developers immediately switched to the third-party service, whereas some malls hired professionals and set up a system their internal, successful systems. These professionals not only understood business challenges, but also helped mall developers/ owners effectively deal with them.
Mall management is defined as an overall operation and maintenance of the entire building infrastructure, including the services and utilities, ensuring that they are used in a way that is consistent with the purpose for which it was acquired. Mall management includes operations, facility management, security,accounts, common area maintenance, marketing, leasing, zoning, traffic and all the other functions related to a mall.
Usually, there are two types of consumers who visit malls – focused buyers and impulse buyers. The time spent by focused buyers inside the mall is relatively low as compared with impulse buyers who spend a lot of time window shopping. Malls which have entertainment zones and/ or promotional activities have larger footfalls and more percentage of impulse buyers. In the past, several malls were constructed without doing any feasibility study or rigorous market research. Though initially, they were successful in attracting people but soon went out of the competition because they failed to convert visitors into potential buyers. The simple reason was ‘failure in understanding local needs’. Therefore, mall management becomes critical in attracting impulse buyers.
Importance of Mall Management
Rajneesh Mahajan, CEO, Inorbit Malls explains, “Malls are not real estate business where the only objective is drawing rentals, they are to be seen as a product which has an ethos that is relevant to the market they are operating in. A success of a mall depends on various factors like the right trade & tenant mix, events & promotions that the mall plans for its patrons during the year, the service levels like clean and hygienic washrooms, convenient car park facility etc. The role of the mall team is to ensure they provide end-to-end solutions in all the specialised areas that start from mall conceptualisation stage to development and then management.”
“In case of an existing mall, a good mall management company works with past data and for a new mall,they work on the catchment first, along with the requirements of the target group. A mall management company should be employed right from the design stage, to help fine tune even the basic drawings to suit the catchment and make sure it is feasible. Everything from the entry & exit to parking; footfall and tyre fall circulation within the mall; basic amenities to be provided; getting the right navigation signages and its correct placement; creation of a standardised design manual for retailers; zoning of the mall; type of brands chosen for the mall to suit it’s positioning; training for operational and security staff; maintenance of ambience; creation of new experiences with the right activations; constant analysis of retailer sales; asset maintenance; providing a safe & secure environment for customers are all crucial,” says Shibu Philips, Business Head, LuLu Mall.
“The role of the mall management companies is subject to the requirement of the mall owner or developer. In case of Infiniti Malls, we have a set of well experienced team members to ensure the smooth functioning and enhancing the standards and services within the mall. The team look at the various aspects of mall fundamentals like the right brand mix, proper zoning, promotions & marketing, parking/traffic management, lease administration etc,” says Mukesh Kumar, CEO, Infiniti Malls.
“The success of the mall is dependent on many factors starting from site selection, access, design, project execution, internal and external circulation, services, experience, retail mix and of course, finally to mall management. Mall management is the backbone of the shopping mall. It creates and dictates customer experience and manages and fulfi lls customer expectations which – combined with effective marketing,security, ambiance, maintenance and housekeeping – is extremely vital in building the mall’s image and generating goodwill. At Viviana Mall,there has been recording double-digit growth in its footfalls right from the time of its inception. Going by the current trend, we anticipate this growth in footfalls to continue at least for the next few years. This success has been the outcome of our sustained daily efforts and persistent engagement with our patrons,” adds Manoj K Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer, Viviana Mall.
“Mall Management itself has been new to the country and the first set of malls had people from organised disciplined background like defense running properties which had a heavy administrative emphasis. In the last decade, property management services developed slowly to create an unmatched experience for the shopping centers. Soon the mall developers and shopping centre owners realized the potential and importance of the professionals, who brings requires skill-set of mall and property management,” says Sanjeev Mehra, VP, Quest Properties India Limited.
“Our continual customer-centric engagement along with the unique brand mix that we off er in our mall has resulted in a consistent increase in sales and footfalls. We have been efficiently handling day-to-day operations along with short, medium and long term strategies through self-management of most operations. This mix has ensured a fine balance leading to our mall’s success. The vendors help us with all the activation by coordinating with our in-house management team, which in turn has been hand-picked by Sheth Group,” he adds.
“We believe an efficient mall management brings in ‘great shopping experience to patrons’. It is also crucial from the mall investment point of view as it encourages more brand presence and hence, impacts the overall ‘Return on Investment’,” states Trinath K, Centre Director, Elante Mall.
There are various instances where mall developers hire separate expert mall management companies to run the mall as mall management requires special expertise. Experience of mall management companies definitely reflects in performance of the mall which is directly linked with the success of the mall,” says Arijit Chatterjee, Chief Operating Officer, Junction Mall.
Significance of Mall Management
If a mall doesn’t have a proper and organised management process, it may lose consumers, retailers and the other brands associated with it, which may ultimately hamper the brand value of the mall. If there is no mall management services, the mall will have to sort out the following challenges:
To implement a perfect zoning plan
– Market Research
– Finding the right tenant
– Perceive outsourcing as an additional cost
– Lack of accountability for in-house promotional activities
Mechanism of Mall Management
As mentioned above, mall management is classified into different categories which cannot be ignored. The main areas of focus are:
Positioning: Positing of the mall defines the services offered by a mall. The location of the mall is the first priority. It is determined after doing the research on the demographics, psychographics, income levels, competition and accessibility of catchment in the area. The procedure is conducted by the mall management team/ professionals who help in creating a distinguished image of the mall. Positioning assists in creating a distinctive image and ‘top of mind’ recall for the masses when they think of a mall. The main objectives of this are:
– To create a sense of recognition
– To promote loyalty
– Enhance goodwill
– To stay ahead of the competitors
– To woo customers and increase sales
Zoning: Zoning refers to the division of mall space into various 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. Creating the right tenant mix and then placing them in appropriately marked out zones in the mall not only helps in attracting and retaining shoppers by offering them multiple choices and satisfying multiple needs, but also facilitates the smooth movement of shoppers within the mall, avoiding unnecessary clusters and bottlenecks.
In the era of competition, zoning, if done properly helps in building a separate image in the minds of the visitors. This also helps influence shoppers’ mall preference and frequency of visits, which is critical considering the robust upcoming supply of malls.
Advantages of Zoning:
Smooth movement of shoppers in the mall, avoiding clusters and bottlenecks.
Helps formulate the right tenant mix and the placement of these tenants within the mall.
Helps in the selection of right anchor tenant.
Helps retailers attract both types of consumers, especially the impulse buyers.
Marketing/ Promotions/ Events: This is perhaps the most important category of mall management. It is a continuous process on which the success of a mall depends, something which always requires a newness quotient and has to be implemented with perfection. Some of the most effective promotional models include celebrity visits, food festivals and talk shows, which increase footfalls and, as a result, increased revenues. Organising cultural, national, and religious celebrations have also proved useful in raking in footfalls. Mall developers plan out marketing strategies that match the requirements of local consumers and address the challenges of local or regional competitors.
Facility Management: Facility management refers to the integration of equipment and technology in a mall. This includes everything – from entry to different floors to exits, lighting, parking, housekeeping, ambience and other specialised services provided by malls. It handles electro-mechanical services like fire detection, access control, power management, water management plumbing, supply chain, marketing research, logistics and design etc.
In addition to this they also offer business services like help desk management, guest relations, and meeting room management. Some facility management companies also provide soft services like pest control, cleaning, and physical and security surveillance, concierge services, feeding rooms, and administration services.
Security: It is the duty of the mall management to keep every corner of the mall secure and under their supervision. The safety of consumers – especially women, kids and senior citizens – is the first priority. Security measures adopted by the mall management include:
– CCTV cameras throughout the mall
– Presence of good lighting (in all busy/empty areas, including parking)
– Easily accessed fire exits and efficient fire alarms
– Process safety measures in lifts, on escalators
Finance Management: Financial management – planning for the future of a business enterprise to ensure a positive cash flow – is the backbone of the shopping mall. Without the inflow and management of capital, no mall can survive. It includes the administration and maintenance of financial assets and the process of identifying andmanaging risk. Mall management companies cover the following activities under financial management:
– Accounting system to track the debt and invoices
– Cash receipts and collection of income
– Organising resources to deliver an efficient and effective annual audit
Technology: Making an Impact
According to Agarwal, technology advancement has enabled an IT and electronic explosion in India. “We, as mall owners and operators, have adopted technology wherever possible to keep improving shopping experience as we firmly believe that technology is a big enabler in providing information and convenience to the customer thus enhancing the customer experience. With the help of technology, we provide unparalleled customer service. A specialised internal process is in place wherein any retailer or a customer who has submitted a query gets a reply within a stipulated time. For example, for a retailer, mall response turnaround time is not more than 2 hours, for customers it is 30 minutes.”
“We also have extensive digital marketing options in our mall by way of the strategically placed digital signage. Further, we are getting additional branding spaces digitised as well. Apart from this, we have touch screen mall directory at all key locations in the mall through which all our patrons can seek information regarding the mall in terms of its services and its 220 plus retail brand and can further use these directories to assist them in navigating their way to the particular store or service,” he adds.
Internally, Viviana Mall uses technology to make all their processes, checklists and reports digital thereby reducing paperwork and leading them to the proverbial path of a paperless office. They also use a retail estate software to manage their business processes and HR processes making tracking, recording and reporting of data simple and convenient.
As per Trinath K, a retail space should be fully acquainted with the latest technology to enhance the overall mall experience. “We have completely digitised our entire facility to ensure the best utilisation of technological advancements. We are using an application ‘Happy Not Happy’ device through which we track happiness index of the shoppers. This is the most important tool that helps us to get real-time consumer feedback. It then becomes the backbone of our overall functioning and leads to timely changes and improvement as per consumer needs. We keep a tab on RSI-CSI (Retailer and Customer Satisfaction Index) through a pathfinder that helps us fetch exact sale numbers and keep a track on the analysis of individual retailer,” he says.
“At Elante, safety is of utmost importance. Baggage scannersand high resolution IP-based cameras help us maintaining mall security. We have implemented body-worn cameras to increase surveillance & civil patrolling along with floor patrolling – Mobile (Segway scooter), a fire exit door integration with fire panel. We also follow a sustainable approach and we are one of the early adopters of solar panel systems to save power and generate compost to utilise it for the horticulture purpose,” he adds.
“At LuLu, technology plays a very crucial role in mall management. To understand the sales data of retailers in depth, ADSR system is very helpful. It gives us even the hourly sales, helping us to comprehend when the peak shopping times are. Through face detection technology, we’re able to identify customers and send offers to them. The PGS system has been aiding customers to find a parking spot in our vast space. The loyalty app has enabled us to reach out to our regular customers with customised offers and reward them instantly.
Everything from lighting to HVAC and STP operations have become technology driven and less people dependent. Throughthe right usage of CCTV we’re able to stay alert, find lost items and identify the hot spots in the mall. Wi-fi is another element that has helped us interact with our customers better,” added Philips.
“Quest has come up with the new Quest App which has got many advanced features for enhanced user engagement. It is the first mall in the entire east region to have a complete parking solution integrated onto our App through which users can pay their parking tariff online and get 100 percent cashback as well. The amount gets credited to their virtual parking wallet and can be used in their next visit. The App is also paired with Bluetooth Beacons which are installed inside the mall and through this user can get push notifications on their Smart phones and stay informed about the various ongoing offers provided by the different brands inside the mall,” added Mehra.
“Technology is a key driver of business change and we have utilized it to create an impact in two ways. First is efficiency, in which most of our operational systems are tech enabled with new age solutions. This enables us to identify & fix problems faster. We have implemented complaint management system, an app that enables our brands to log their operational complaints on daily basis. Complains are addressed ‘Live’ and the mall management system ensures faster closure to solve them.
Second aspect is the consumer engagement where we use technology in our events and promotions to offer innovative experiences like the CrystalMaze and Laser games to our customers. Pink Power is an initiative led by Inorbit to empower women entrepreneurs by giving them with free retail space for 9 months inside our malls with marketing support. The whole campaign is driven digitally, garnering more than 2400+ registrations through online channels, for season 5 alone,” explains Mahajan.
Technology has played an important role in changing the fabric of the retail business and Infiniti Mall has embraced this change by adapting technology to provide maximum customer satisfaction. We have many opportunities for malls to decrease customer pain points, while simultaneously creating new delight points. Technology, for instance, can be used to address one of the challenges that shoppers face at the mall such as finding parking. Sensors located in parking spaces detect how many spots are available on each level and give visual indicators to drivers. Within the mall, shoppers could easily find and locate brands, shops etc. without any hassle through kiosk machines.Moreover, Infiniti Mall is amongst the first few malls in India that has launched enhanced customer friendly rewards program where earning & burning of points will happen at the POS/store itself,” explains Kumar.
Viviana Mall is an organised shopping destination. A preferred mall of choice for customers with a high brand recall value, the developers are of the firm belief that effective management skills are among the topmost critical factor behind the mall’s success.To achieve this, the mall closely monitors customer feedback across various media and is very quick in responding and take corrective action.
“Based on our understanding of customer’s needs, we have 30 mall services many of which have been newly introduced based on this understanding. Along with this, we ensure that we consistently offer a pleasant and warm ambiance, a positive sense of safety and security and proper focus on our customers’ needs and expectations – all of which our Mall Management team takes care of,” says Agarwal.
Mall Management System: Viviana has hired a vendor who provides the best of facilities and services to consumers. Some responsibilities handled by professionally run vendors and managing agents in the mall include:
– Event Management Company: SELF
– Facility Management Company: OCS for
– Engineering & Housekeeping
– Food Court Operator: SELF
– Mall Management Company: SELF
– Mall Management Software: SELF
– Mall Media Marketing Campaign: SELF
– Parking Equipment Supplier: Secure
– Parking Solution Pvt Ltd
– Parking Management Contractor: Secure Parking Solution Pvt Ltd
– Security Management Company: Bharadwaj Security, Honest Security and Olive Security
– Security System / Technology Supplier: Schneider Electric India Pvt Ltd
– Signage Company: SELF
– Viviana Mall has always strived to create an experience that goes beyond shopping and be as friendly to our patrons as possible. Some key services by their mall management include:
– Loyalty Lounge – The first mall in India to have lounge service for Loyalty Program customers and senior citizens.
– Golf Cart – Pick up and drop services for customers from the parking lobby to the mall.
– Free Organic Manure – Since inception, Viviana Mall has its own ‘Organic Waste Management’ plant wherein perishable waste from the food court and restaurants from the premises is treated and converted into manure. This manure is not only distributed for free to the customers but also to the local civic body.
– Portable Power Banks – Free mobile battery recharging service using power banks, so the customer is not restricted to one area while waiting for their mobile to recharge. A customer can avail this free service at the Information Desk. Sanitary Pad Dispensers – Each female restroom has a sanitary pad dispenser.
– Electric Wheelchair – Electric or motorized, self-propelled wheelchairs provideease and convenience to people with mobility impairment.
– Safety Bands for Kids – As soon as a child enters Viviana Mall, a safety wristband is put on him/her which has the parent’s mobile number on it.
– Pankh – Pankh is a centre for training and shaping careers of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and is located within the mall premises. Mall management takes care of this centre which provides PwDs with a level playing field in the employment market.
– Visually Impaired Friendly – Viviana Mall is the first Indian mall to launch an audio-tactile labelling system, tactile Braille map, shopping assistance for the visually impaired and Braille menu cards at all restaurants and outlets of the mall. In fact, the mall houses the Xavier’s Resource Centre for the
– Visually Challenged (XRCVC) which is set up as a branch of the XRCVC center of St. Xavier’s College, – Mumbai wherein they train people with visual impairments on vocational and computer skills.
– Car & Bike Washing Services– The mall has a specialised service for patrons to get their cars washed while enjoying family time, operated efficiently by the mall management team.
Elante Mall changed from a third party management team to an in-house team of the best professionals across the country. The brand hired the best of talents across the country and built an in-house mall management team which is proactive, seamless and efficient. Currently, they have a standard operating process which is in-line with all Nexus Malls.
– Their in-house management system seamlessly manages the following services:
– Electric car charging station
– Pink Parking for women
– Women Protection Cell
– Creche and baby care room
– Learning centre for retailers
– Kids’ tagging
– Medical room
– Fire control room
– Drivers waiting lounge
– One touch complaint re-dressal system
LuLu Mall, Kochi has been running successfully for the past 6.5 years and the full credit of the success goes to their in-house mall management team. LuLu gets an average monthly footfall of 21 lakhs and average monthly tyre fall of 2.2 lakhs, due to its location, which is an intersection of three important highways, NH 47, NH 17 and the Kochi by-pass.
“When we initially launched, our parking facilities supported only 1500 vehicles, and this led to severe traffic snarls on all the highways and within the mall. The phenomenal success of mall was beyond our anticipation and the mall management rose up to the challenge of accommodating all the customers. We built a MLCP on a prime parcel of land within the property, increasing our parking capacity to 3800 vehicles. Secondly, we implemented a PGS system to make it easier for customers to find a parking spot.
For our premium customers, valet service was introduced at the entries. When the Kochi metro was launched, we immediately ensured that a direct entry to the mall was made possible through a skywalk connecting us to the nearest metro station. Customers are also able to access the mall through an underpass for the metro station. With all these measures, we were able to solve the constant worry within our customers on how to beat the traffic to reach Lulu,” elaborates Philips.
Their in-house management system seamlessly manages services such as: Indoor walkways, ATM’s, money exchange centers, bank, pharmacy, travel & holidays booking services, escalators, lifts, special facilities for the differently-abled, information desk, lost & found counter, first aid and ambulance service, car calling, Wi-Fi, cab services, baby care room, prams, safety tags for children, prayer room, car wash, florist, concierge service, reserved parking for expectant mothers and differently-abled, water cooler facilities.
The mall management system at Quest is a hybrid model managed by the in-house team. Their mall management structure is based on a combination of retail professionals at the helm and a integration of out-sourced professionals covering Engineering, hospitality, parking, security and other facilitation services. This with verticals of marketing and finance integrated with our group resources provides them ample width, depth and expertise across the entire spectrum to manage Quest.
Quoting from the success of Quest Floral Fantasy, Mehra recalls, “The Quest team conducted the one week long event from January 11-17, 2019 which was a milestone for the brand.
Flower Shows predominantly have always been outside and the challenges of executing breathtaking & spectacular displays of global floral artists within a secured environment accompanied with handling of millions of people who go through one mall being the toughest challenge. The execution of this event, first of its kind, required thorough coordination & cooperation from across the globe and Team Quest. The result of what happened was there for everyone to see. The Global Artists themselves enamored by the recognition and love from the city of people and flower enthusiasts, who thronged the mall to enjoy some of the spectacular displays ever seen. We at Quest, now own another remarkable property which will evolve with time and we will present better at Quest Floral Fantasy,” adds Mehra.
Inorbit Malls has an in-house team for the mall management thing. For Inorbit, mall management is a lot more than just the upkeep of the facilities / assets in a shopping mall. The brand has departmental teams at their head office who liaisons with the local mall teams on each aspect of mall management that includes mall positioning, zoning, tenant mix, promotions/ marketing, finance and facility management. However, Inorbit has collaboration with support agencies who service them for various functions like facility management, brand building, creating events and décor, mall design, technical & digital upgrades like touch screens, mobile app, social media marketing etc.
“At Inorbit we give special importance to overall customer experience. We provide special services like free wi-fi, wheelchairs for senior and specially abled customers, baby care rooms for families,” says Mahajan.
Infiniti Mall has its in-house mall management team with various agencies under different departments for down the line operations to enhance smooth operations. The brand believes in a strong management and ensures a smooth operating procedure across all departments. The mall management takes into consideration the overall operation and maintenance of the entire building infrastructure, services and utilities, ensuring they are optimally used for the purpose for which it was acquired.
“Moreover, there are other factors we keep in mind from the customers and retailers’ point of view. To achieve smooth functioning and better efficiency in all areas, we have various departments with specific roles and responsibilities. These departments are operations, facilities, retail relations & projects, leasing, engineering, marketing, IT, procurement, complaints, vendor registration, accounts, fire & safety and security & parking management,” says Kumar.
Apart from successfully managing plethora of events, Infiniti mall management team most prominent success story has been the waste management. The team collected waste and converted it into useful resources for an eco-friendly environment.
“We started segregating the waste at the source and educated all the retail partners and mall staff. We placed appropriate waste bins at required locations within the mall premises ensuring they were easily accessible to customers as well. On an average, we collected 1 tonne of wet waste daily and generated around 100 kgs of manure through OWC plants installed in our mall. This manure is utilised by mall in horticulture apart from distributing it to our other establishments. Thus, we not only save costs, but also contribute towards creating an eco-friendly environment,” says Kumar.
Their in-house management system seamlessly manages the following services:
– Customer desk service
– Baby care rooms
– Handicapped washrooms and wheel chair services
– Terrace parking facility
Junction mall has a self-run system for mall management. There is standard SOP for all respective functional departments. The brand hired experts from the respective fields to make their team strong enough to handle every situation.
Their in-house management system seamlessly manages the following services:
Separate Parking for special abled visitors
– Kids washroom and other washroom
– Baby care room with diaper changing station in ladies washroom.