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The Year That Was: Customer-centricity key to shopping mall success

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Shopping malls are the lifeline of the modern retail industry. The great Indian shopping mall boom began innocuously enough in the early 2000s, with just three malls in existence in the entire country. Nineteen years later, the number has mushroomed to a whopping 650 malls, enabled by the fact that the Indian audience discovered clean, vibrant, climate-controlled and technology-enabled malls, replete with a plethora of brands.

The Year That Was: Customer-centricity key to shopping mall success

The shopping centre industry in the country took a hit with the advent of e-commerce in the early 2000s and then the due to the effects of recession of 2007-2008, the economic slowdown, demonetization, FDI rules as well as the coming of GST. There even came a time when developers were forced to shut down ‘dead’ or ‘ghost’ malls.

Despite the hurdles, investment firms saw India as a gold mine and mall developers did not lose focus, working doubly hard to ensure that their footfalls didn’t go down. In fact, as per an ANAROCK report, more than 30 new shopping malls covering nearly 14 million sq. ft. of area are expected to come up across top eight cities by 2020.

As far as Indian shopping mall industry is concerned, the year 2019 was a good and successful one. Developers started building new and improved malls for appreciating audiences. Today, all cities –Tier I, II or III – have malls, not just market complexes. Big players like Pacific and Vegas added new malls to their portfolio and many more are on verge of opening new malls.

1Rise of Tier II City Malls

Metro and Tier I cities have always been the center point of the mall culture and premium malls precisely. However, Tier II cities and towns in states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Odisha, UP and Kerala are slowly closing the gap with Tier I cities in a race to be home to luxury malls. Nearly 85 shopping malls are expected to come up in the country over the next five years and most of them will be in the Tier II & III cities.

In the past five years, Tier II & III cities have shown tremendous acceptance of brands. The saying that ‘only Tier I shoppers like to shop for brands’ has been proven a myth now. A large population in smaller towns is fully aware of the brands and modern fashion trends and knows what is best suited for him/her. Retail experts believe that the success rate of shopping mall in a smaller town is much more than in metro cities where the competition is very high.

With high rentals and very less land available in center point of the Tier I cities, mall developers face tough time in getting the footfalls and revenue. Meanwhile, malls in smaller towns have abundance of land and cheap rentals and can be easily accessible by the entire population of the city.

2New Brands in 2019

The year 2019 saw a huge leap in opening of new stores in the mall in comparison to the street. International brands opted for malls to open their flagship stores in large number. In Tier II malls, Indian brands opened their exclusive and bigger stores rather than going for a franchising model which was a trend earlier.

As per a report by JLL, the leasing activity—the rate at which mall spaces were taken up by tenants—in the country’s top seven cities rose 75 percent compared to the same period last year.

“The retail market, which has been experiencing a new lease of life with investment interest returning to the market, has also seen a growth in leasing activities from both international and domestic brands. With good quality malls now coming up, brands have been eyeing expansion in Indore, Hyderabad and other smaller cities,” said the report.

3Entertainment and F&B

Mall developers today have understood that Entertainment and F&B categories give a superlative edge to their malls. The time spent in the mall is directly proportional to the revenue generated and these platforms ensure people spend as much time as possible there. As a result, malls are tying up with entertainment centres like Smaaash, TimeZone, PVR Playhouse, Fun City, HangOut etc. to keep the entertainment quotient intact. Cinema giants too started seeing malls as perfect partners to open their advanced and highly luxurious megaplexes in for discerning crowds – which garnered more revenue than standalone cinema halls.

2019 saw a huge rise in opening of these entertainment centers and others gaming arenas for kids and the Millennial crowd. A large number of restaurants and cuisines were introduced as dining options in malls pan India to give Indian people a taste of the world.

There has been much talk of the death of brick-and-mortar retail as a consequence of the aggressive advent of e-commerce into the country. However, the fact is that it is still the dawn for shopping malls in India. Much has been added in terms of brands, technologies, food and entertainment so far and the sky is the limit to the consumer experience and service that malls are planning to add in their portfolios. In short, the year 2019 will be another step in the successful journey of shopping malls in India, the transformation from mere retail destinations into consumer engagement spaces.

Read on to see how top Indian Malls fared in 2019

4AMANORA MALL, PUNE

For Amanora Mall, the year 2019 has been good and prosperous. “With New Brands in 2019 opening in the mall, the footfall and revenue has increased. The overall performance of the mall was quite satisfactory. I would rate our achievements 8 out of 10,” says , COO, Amanora Mall.

Key Highlights

The launch of Smaaash and Marks & Spencer was one of the key highlights for the mall.

“There are many more brands which will be entering the mall in the coming months. With a newly revamped look and refreshed brand mix, the sales have increased. With combination of premium ambience and brands, we have created highly relevant space for aspirational customers,” says Rajpurohit.

Food Court, Entertainment & Other Initiatives

Amanora mall designed and added expanded open spaces for live events to go the extra mile to attract people this year.

The food court is undergoing a major transformation process and aims to become one of the largest food courts in Pune. It will soon have more than 25 kitchens, with a seating capacity of 1,200+ people.

Technological Innovations

Amanora has introduced AI, Digital Pathways in the technological portfolio. They have applications which maps consumer buying behaviour, tracks average spend and frequency of visit.

“We will be doing holographic displays, interactive digital standees and digital way finders to enhance customer’s shopping experience in the coming months,” says Rajpurohit.

5GROWEL’S 101, MUMBAI

For Growel’s 101, the year 2019 has been a good year overall. The mall witnessed positive trends in retail sales numbers along with the average spends per customer in the last quarter especially.

Performance Chart

On the parameter of performance, revenue, business and growth, the mall witnessed a solid growth in all these categories. In 2019, Growel’s saw double -digit growth in sales, TD and footfalls.

Key Highlights

One of the key highlights for Growel’s 101 was the increase in positive average spends in 2019 as compared to the last. Also, the festive quarter was a big boost as the brand achieved its highest retail sales and TD since inception beating the last highest numbers by a very good margin.

Technological Innovations

Growel’s introduced a digital feedback mechanism through tabs and hyperlinks in 2019. To make the payment easy and convenient, the mall introduced pay wallets for the parking payments. The initiatives received encouragingly huge positive response. “For customer-centricity, we will be very soon launching Growel’s 101++ rewards program App. Digital floor guide screens will also be installed for navigation,” says Sachin Dhanawade, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Retail & Real Estate, Grauer & Weil (India) Limited.

New Brands in 2019 Added

Levis, Hamleys, MINISO, Nykaa, Drinx Exchange, WOW Momo, Ladu Samrat

Food Court, Entertainment & Other Initiatives

Growel’s upgraded their entertainment section this year and have added new rides and more options for children. Unique spaces have been created for the kids in different zones of the mall. As far as their foodcourt is considered, it has been given a new look, ambience and mood lighting. The seating space has been increased. With a healthy mix, currently their F&B brands are doing exceptionally good in terms of Y-o-Y numbers.

6INORBIT MALLS

For Inorbit Malls, the year 2019 has been dynamic. The brand witnessed a series of changes in all the categories. Fashion and food category turned out to be the strong categories which saw maximum transition in all Inorbit malls.

Performance wise the festive quarter gave the brand more reasons to celebrate. During this quarter, all the malls recorded double digit consumption growth with an inspiring increase in consumer spends.

Technological Innovations

“We are focused on creating digital experiences that creates incremental footfall growth,” says Naviin Ibhrampurkar, Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications, Inorbit Malls.

As a part of their engagement strategy, Inorbit has recently started the use of QR Codes to augment its communication and also to build consumer engagement.

Inorbit malls also rolled out interactive ‘Digital Directories’ that helps consumers not only search for the brands and offers, but also navigate their way to the store.

The mall recently has developed ‘The Inorbit ChatBot’ for elevating consumer experience and its currently being tested in a closed group. It is a voice assistant that will have information related to brands, services, events, and deals and offers which augment customer experience.

“We know that consumers are connected all the time and the Bot is an interactive platform the allows brands to engage with customers through gamified experiences and value transactions,” elaborates Ibhrampurkar.

New Brands in 2019

Street Food by Punjab Grill & Asia Seven, Love & Latte, Urban Tadka, KFC, Marks & Spencer, Mufti, Zink London, Aurelia, Inc 5, Skechers, Crocs, Mia, Chumbak, Enamor, Jockey, Lenskart, Chaayos, Huber & Holly, Wok Express, Burger King.

Food Court, Entertainment & Other Initiatives

Apart from shopping, entertainment is today emerging as a strong category. INOX, the 7-screen multiplex at the mall in Malad, was transformed into a megaplex and is live with Imax, MX4D, an ONYX led screen, premium Insignia and Kiddles (kids theatre). They also introduced ScreenX, which is a multi-projection screen covering 3 walls and gives 270-degree wide movie format.

7JUNCTION MALL, DURGAPUR

For Junction Mall, the year 2019 has been good and prosperous. The mall extended its retail catchment by a large number and hence witnessed the highest ever business figure for brands in their shopping mall. This year, Junction reached up to 95 percent of occupancy and also upgraded its tenant mix. The mall also witnessed the highest ever footfalls in a single day as well this year.

Performance Chart

On the parameter of performance, revenue, business and growth, Junction witnessed a solid growth in all these categories.

Performance – Achieved around 93 pc of budget
Revenue – Achieved around 90 pc of the target
Business – Growth of around 12 pc YOY
Growth – Growth of around 12 pc YOY

Key Highlights

The key highlights for the mall in 2019 were:

– Junction added brands like Sabhyata, Aurelia, Monte Carlo, Indian Terrain, Firstcry.com in 2019. MI Studio was also introduced.
– Anchor stores achieved the highest sales since their launch. The stores witnessed a giant footfall in the festive months, not only on weekends but on weekdays as well.
– The food court was renovated to add more features and brands in the list.
– The mall renovated its landscape by adding more greenery and eco-friendly objects in the mall surroundings.

Food Court, Entertainment & Other Initiatives

The entire food court of the mall was renovated and extended. New Brands in 2019 such Haldiram’s and London Shake was introduced this year. “We are completely following exclusiveness theory for the Food Court. This will give an extended range of options to customers. As far as the entertainment section is concerned, we are exploring new areas. We signed a new gaming zone for the kids. It will be an electronic gadget free zone. All games and activities will be physical. This is planned to give a healthy boost to kids of this generation and to engage them more to physical exercises,” says , COO, Junction Mall.

8OBEROI MALL, MUMBAI

“Despite the general economic slowdown, the year 2019 has been quite exciting for Oberoi Mall. We received a promising response for all our events, activaties and fests throughout the year,” says , General Manger, Oberoi Mall.

Technological Innovations

Oberoi Mall introduced new ergonomically designed wheelchairs to USB charge points through the mall for the tech savvy patrons. Apart from these, they also adopted new systems and software at the back- end to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their interactions with the retail partners and consultants in a transparent and time-bound manner.

New Brands in 2019

Indya, Rookie USA, Swiss Paradise, Lenskart, Regal, Coldstone Creamery and Churros Co

Food Court, Entertainment & Other Initiatives

The major anchors at the mall are NAMCO and PVR Icon. NAMCO, the first of its kind in India, is a fun-filled entertainment zone for kids and adults alike. Built to Japanese standards of safety and peace of mind, the vibrant facility is designed around 3D TV animation ‘PAC-MAN’, ‘Ghostly Adventures’ and ‘Star Wars’ themes. The centre offers large-scale children’s play equipment and one of India’s largest redemption zones.

“We also have a Multiplex PVR ICON where movie enthusiasts get to experience the one of a kind P[XL] screen with Dolby Atmos moving sound technology, dual 4k projections and customised 4D glasses. PVR ICON also houses a unique Kids’ offering – ‘Playhouse’, an exclusive one-of-a-kind movie experience in Mumbai made for both kids and adults who wish to keep their inner child alive,” he says.

9, BANGALORE

Orion Mall has had a phenomenal 2019 as the mall witnessed significant growth across all key parameters like trading density, sales per square feet, parking and footfalls. The mall has carved a reputation for being a true-blue lifestyle destination.

Performance Chart

“In terms of growth, we have notched up a double-digit YoY growth rate. This year, we have charted 7 percent growth on footfalls and 12 percent growth in F&B category. The finest testament to the Orion brand is the fact that more than 30 of our retail brand partners have stated that Orion Mall Brigade Gateway has been the best performing mall for them in South India, as well as the rest of the country,” says , Chief Operating Officer – Retail, Brigade Enterprises Limited.

New Brands in 2019 in 2019

Super Dry, CaratLane, Taneira, One Friday

Food Court, Entertainment & Other Initiatives

“We have had a long-standing relationship with brands like PVR, Time Zone and Funky Monkeys. These are now household names that stand for wholesome entertainment and serve diverse age groups. To refresh the customer value proposition, we are also shortly introducing Smaaash, India’s first urban sports centre that seamlessly mixes gaming, partying and dining into an immersive experience. The most recent additions to the food court have been Aha Andhra, Sizzler cafe and Dominos. The food court design is very different from what you see in other malls, with a very elegant European street like feel. We are also in the process of renovating the food court to enhance the overall customer experience,” said Kumar.

10, KOLKATA

Like the previous years, 2019 has also been quite fruitful, exciting and full of activities for Quest Mall, Kolkata.

“Apart from the events, we have also established a good reach in the digital arena with the launch of Quest App in the month of September with first of its kind feature of – online payment for parking, which has got a great response too with 5,000 mobile app downloads in a mere 3 months period,” says , VP, Quest Properties India Limited.

Performance Chart

The performance for the FY 2018-19 has been at par with the performance for FY 2017-18, with one of the highest sales per sq. ft. in the entire region. “We have seen a major growth in luxury and food, which is a positive sign of growing aspiration and more indulgence. We are now working on the same line to add more aspirational brands into our brand-mix. We have entered into the 7th Year of our operations in the month of November and from here onwards we eventually foresee rezoning to happen within the mall, as the way forward,” adds Mehra.

Food Court, Entertainment & Other Initiatives

Burger King and Taco Bell are the latest additions to the food court at Quest.

“We have utilised the same space without disturbing the normal operations of the food court, except 2 counters which also have now been refurbished, while adding the two aforementioned QSR brands. Both the brands have their own positives to add to the Food Court. We already had KFC, but BK has its own clientele and now mall patrons have more options, whereas, Taco adds a new category altogether to the F&B experience. We have brought in QSR format like Burger King, Taco Bell in the Food Court Area; Indigo Delicatessan, Skaii in the Casual Fine Dining. Further we have added Bally, Nykaa Luxe, Aldo, Charles & Keith, Tribe Amrapali, all of which have started giving better revenues from the brands that they have replaced,” states Mehra.

11, MUMBAI

“For R City Mall marked 2019 as a successful year, due to their events. The ‘End of season sale and ‘Kala Ghoda’ festival were the landmark events which made the year successful for the brand,” says Rajiv Malla, CEO, Runwal Group.

Performance Chart

The mall has registered an average 10 percent growth this year. It accounted highest sales inception this Diwali.

New Brands in 2019

Reliance Trends, Taneira, Hastkala, Hitchki, Agent Jacks, Autobahn and Yana sizzlers.

Technological Innovations

As far as technological innovations are concerned, the key focus for R City Mall was to make itself more accessible, convenient and comfortable for shoppers.

“We are the first mall to install self-ordering kiosks, which helped in saving time and avoiding long queues at the food court. The newly introduced R City Mall App makes navigating the mall easy for our customers. The mall significantly leveraged technology and will be installing digital directories shortly thus enhancing the customer shopping experience. The mall is also launching a digital customer feedback program. Recently the mall had a strategic tie-up with Meru Cab Services and introduced instant cab parking and boarding facility. As mentioned, in 2019 the mall has capitalised on technology to provide an enhanced shopping experience and will be installing digital directories shortly,” concludes Malla.

12, DELHI

“Select CITYWALK’s 2019 journey has been quite stable. In terms of footfall and sales we clocked a healthy growth. Also, this year we welcomed many international brands like Onitsuka Tiger, Lyn, Brooks Brothers, Ted Baker, Love Moschino, Diesel among others in our shopping centre,” says , Executive Director & CEO, Select CITYWALK.

Technological Innovations

With the help of technology, retailers and management at the mall can leverage software allowing for tracking inventory, pricing and also churning customer data into intelligence to make themselves more efficient in planning and decision making. This helps them to enable the right retailer mix for increased footfall, hence directly impacting business.

“Augmented Reality is also finding its way in direct retail from its traditional application for online selling. Retailers are using smart mirrors for patrons to visualise different clothing, make up and eyeware in stores as well,” says Sharma highlighting the innovations which are in pipeline.

New Brands in 2019

Lyn, Adidas Original, Onitsuka Tiger, Cole Haan, Diesel

Food Court, Entertainment & Other Initiatives

Select CITYWALK has always been a destination for holistic entertainment beyond being a shopping centre. Select CITYWALK’s Hangout & Sports Diner – a family entertainment center, café and bowling place – is perfect for family time. Recently, Fitness First joined forces with Select CITYWALK and organised the ‘Dance Fitness Fiesta’.

“We at Select CITYWALK make sure there is something here for everyone. The extensive range of international cuisines and numerous interesting restaurants gives an option to pretty much every type of palate. We have a host of cuisines at our food court, My Square that consumers can pick from – Chinese & Thai, Italian, Indian, and Arabic/Lebanese – and many more,” Sharma explains.

13VIVIANA MALL, MUMBAI

Viviana Mall has a reputation of experiencing robust and steady growth over the years and the same continued this year too. “In 2019, we have grown with the same momentum and foresee a similar trend in the upcoming year. Thanks to our continued customer centric engagements along with a unique brand mix offered by us and new retail offerings, we have been able to record a growth as far as the footfalls go. In fact, in a situation where the industry is at loggerheads with the rising e-commerce environment, we have witnessed a consistent jump in our sales and trading density,” said , CEO, Viviana Mall.

Technological Innovations

Raising benchmarks is a continuous process. Viviana Mall continues to raise the bar and push the limits. Same goes with introducing innovative technology to value add to the shopping experience the patrons. Recently, the mall digitised all internal processes across departments. It introduced touchscreen mall directories at all required locations, motorised wheelchairs and digitised customer feedback systems apart from a slew of other tech-driven initiatives.

Introduction of safety bands for kids was another service which was added this year. Families visiting the mall with their children can avail these safety bands which can help track children who get separated from their parents.

New Brands in 2019

Lavie, Adidas Young Athlete, Lacoste, Craftsvilla, The Souled Store, Reliance Jewels, VH Innerwear

Food Court, Entertainment & Other Initiatives

“We have one of the largest megaplexes in India – Cinepolis, with 14 screens to hold up to 75 shows. The combined seating capacity is of around 2,400 people. For children of varied age groups, we have Fun City, toy train, skating rink, indoor football dribble court, net cricket arena, twilight bowling, India’s 1st 4D megaplex, London Bus, etc. Each floor has entertainment options available which in itself is unique,” says Agarwal.

The food court includes Tibb’s Frankie, Wok Express, McDonalds, Pizza Express, KFC, The Irish House, Hitchki, Mad Over Donuts, Burger King, Wow Momos, Sbbaro, Kailash Parbat, Beer Café, Copper Chimney, Northern Tadka, Subway, Pizza Hut, BhagatTarachand, Starbucks, Café Coffee Day, Natural, Mainland China, Rajdhani, Jughead’s, Biryani House, Chaat Café, Malgudi, Only Parathas, Falafels, Chaayos, Sweet Bengal, Baskin Robbins, Theobroma, Love & Cheesecake etc.