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SCAI Virtual Roundtable VII: How malls are implementing the new normal, ensuring consumer confidence

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The seventh edition of #SCAIMondays was a special webcast of shopping centre heads and senior mall management executives who reported from the frontlines with real-time updates on customer experiences and retailers’ feedback on the first day of shopping mall reopening in 30 cities across India.

SCAI Virtual Roundtable VII: How malls are implementing the new normal, ensuring consumer confidence

The session was hosted by , Chairman, SCAI and was anchored by Nishank Joshi, CMO, Nexus Malls.

Rajendra Kalkar, President – West & Whole Time Director, The Phoenix Mills Ltd and Sidharth Pansari, Managing Director, Primarc Group were the analysts who moderated the discussion with different shopping centres heads and management spokespersons.

The panel included:

– Afshin K P, Director – Mall of Travancore, Thiruvananthapuram
– Akashdeep Singh Noul, Centre Director, Mall, Ahmedabad One
– Arijit Chatterjee, COO, , Durgapur
, Singh Centre Director, Mall of Amritsar
– Gajendra Singh Rathore, Sr Centre Director – Mall, Phoenix Marketcity, Bengaluru
– Kiran Puthran, GM, LuLu Int. Shopping Mall, Kochi
– Nimish Arora, Director & Interim CEO, , Delhi
– Premraja, Managing Director, Providence Mall, Puducherry
, Centre Director, Pacific Mall, Dehradun
– Sanjeev Sarin, Centre Director – Mall, , Luckno
– Sharat Belavadi, Center Head, , Hyderabad
, VP & Centre Head of DLF Mall of India, Noida
– Thrinath K, Centre Director, Elante Mall, Chandigarh

Amitabh Taneja, Chairman, SCAI welcomed the panel and expressed his happiness as shopping malls across 30 cities pan India, finally reopened and welcomed back the shoppers.  “It has been a landmark day in India’s reopening journey of organised retail after a long break. It is a great development and was a long-awaited thing and also a challenging one. All of them will be extremely watchful in reopening and will be following all the safety measures and SOPs, issued by the Government (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) and SCAI in particular. These SOPs are very detailed and designed to ensure the safe reopening of the shopping centres and to reassure consumer of our commitment to their safety. We are accountable to customers and they must see the shopping centres a 100 percent safe environment to socialize, shop and entertain in. The responsibility of the industry is immense,” he said.

Nishank Joshi, CMO, Nexus Malls added to this saying, “This day is special because today over 250 shopping malls across India have finally opened up after three long months. In these three months, all shopping malls have worked very hard, re-written their SOPs and are finally ready to welcome their consumers and make them experience the mall life again. This day is giving malls developers the same feeling as the day when they launched their mall for the first time.”

He said that the mall is currently doing 3 rounds of surveys on subjects like consumer sentiment, and awareness of the new normal.

Talking about consumer sentiments and mall reopening, Rajendra Kalkar, President – West & Whole Time Director, The Phoenix Mills Ltd stated, “It is a very happy moment. We have opened three malls today, and this feeling is much greater than we had during the launch time of 12 malls. The Bangalore, Lucknow and Bareilly malls have opened up today, and all of them had a very nice opening. A large number of retailers are supporting us and have opened their stores. Most of the anchors have also opened up. Our first B2B partners and from our B2C customers side, we have seen a good amount of attraction coming and the plus point is that consumers are walking into the malls. Around 2,000 people had come into the Bangalore mall till 3 pm today, Lucknow mall saw a decent opening too. We saw 1000-1500 customers coming here as well and Bareilly figures are yet to come but that will also be positive for us. We saw lots of customers shopping and the sight was quite pleasurable.”

Sidharth Pansari, Managing Director, Primarc Group added, “It has been a very exciting day so far. Lots of customers have been coming into the mall. The response has been positive and we are glad that the consumers are behaving in a disciplined way and are following the instructions and guidelines. They are happy to cooperate with the retailers and mall staffs. It is a good challenge and opportunity situation for all of us.”

1Report from Ground Zero:

Afshin K P, Director – Mall of Travancore, Thiruvananthapuram: “Unfortunately we don’t have the permission to open up the mall today, but we will be opening it from tomorrow. Kerala is taking an extra day to be 100 percent ready to welcome back customers and we are working on this. Right now, the supermarket present in the mall is open and we can see a good number of footfalls in the store. We are taking every possible measure and arrangements are being made both technically and manually to ensure that a mall is a safe place for shopping. The retailers are very eager to reopen the stores and are waiting for the mall to open as soon as possible”

Akashdeep Singh Noul, Centre Director, Mall, Ahmedabad One: “The feeling is emphatic as we are witnessing consumers coming into the mall in good number. The footfalls were around 2,500 on Day 1. There were consumers waiting at the door, before the opening time of the mall. It was quite a motivating site for us. The customers were happy and keenly expressed their excitement and joy of visiting a shopping mall after a gap of 70 days. The mall gave a ‘welcome card and a voucher’ to the first 100 customers and we are planning to continue this activity for a few more days. As far as consumer demography, the age group constituted of people from 20-45 years. People coming to the malls are using the safety measures and everyone is wearing a mask. So far, everyone coming to the mall is a buyer and they are coming from the primary catchment area. We hope to have consumers from secondary and other catchment areas soon. ”

Arijit Chatterjee, COO, The Junction Mall, Durgapur: “We too started from a positive note and witnessed a queue waiting to enter the mall. Maximum stores in the mall have opened up and are quite happy with the response of the customers. Even the shoppers are quite satisfied with the arrangements and measures initiated by the mall. Not only the anchor stores, but the vanilla stores are also witnessing a good response. In fact, a single customer shopped for Rs 1,38,000 in the mall! The mall so far has received a footfall of around 4,000 people and we are sure that it will increase. We have put lots of stickers with instructions all over the mall and sanitizers have implemented at all corners of the mall. We have even installed touchless soap dispensers in washrooms.”

Colonel Mandeep, Singh Centre Director, Mall of Amritsar: “Today, we have crossed more than 50 percent of the footfalls that we used to get in the normal days. We provided safety kits to the visitors and they were very happy with the mall service. Cosmetics and apparels saw the maximum footfalls, with Shoppers’ Stop and Nykaa leading from the front in terms of business. The one challenge which we had to face was the social distancing, but we enforced it strictly and didn’t let shoppers break rules out of excitement. The government of Punjab has prescribed 1 person per 100 sq. ft.. We will be providing safety kits to the consumers for a few more days, as the first few days are very important. We had taken efforts in training all the mall staffs as well as the retailers present in the mall. One week prior to the mall opening, every one of them were called and training sessions were held for them.”

“Government officials visited Mall of Amritsar and showed a keen interest in understanding how so much more has been done – way above the guidelines of both the Central and state government and other authorities. For now, we are working with 50 percent staff as prescribed by SCAI SOPs. Since all our staff is local, there was no problem in calling them back in time for the opening,” he added.

Gajendra Singh Rathore, Sr Centre Director — Mall, Phoenix Marketcity, Bengaluru: “It been a very good start. We opened the mall at 10 am in the morning – the only metro mall open today – and we saw customers coming to the mall from 10.15 am itself and since then the flow has been continuous. The good part is that we are witnessing good quality of the consumers and are seeing serious shopping. Brands have reported very good conversion rate. Customers are behaving quite responsibly and are following the norms. We witnessed around 2,500 footfalls and the good thing is that everyone is going out after buying something. The average duration of the consumer in the mall is 2.5 hours.”

“We have implemented contactless measures like QR codes for payment and seamless entry points. Fashion stores are sanitizing trial rooms after each trial and steam ironing tried clothes. Footwear stores are using light shoe covers and socks. We have an additional feature of shoe sanitizing, which is being appreciated a lot. As far as our contactless parking is concerned, we have put up a fixed charge at the parking. When the car reaches the ‘boom-barrier’, it opens automatically without touching anything,” he added.

Kiran Puthran, GM, LuLu Int. Shopping Mall, Kochi: “We are opening tomorrow as there are certain additional guidelines from the state government that need to be fulfilled. As far as our safety measures are concerned, we have made a provision where a 3 mt sensor is connected to the mall sprayer, which is used for spraying and disinfecting. We are even going so far as to disinfect things like car tyres and footmats. We also have a foot sanitizer mat installed. During the lockdown period as well, we were witnessing around 10k footfalls on daily basis due to our hypermarket and we are hoping to see a better turnout tomorrow. LuLu is leading the SOPs implementation initiative with 17 malls in the city. It is extremely important that even smaller malls that are not members of SCAI also follow basic guidelines.”

Nimish Arora, Director & Interim CEO, Select CITYWALK, Delhi: “We got the notification to open the mall very late on Sunday and then we spoke to the retailers asking about their availability to open today. Despite such a short notice, we are open today, and we are open with more than 50 percent occupancy on day one. We witnessed lots of excitement, positivity and attraction from the consumers and media. Most of the shoppers were Millennials but very elderly people.

“Brands like Home Shop, Apple, H&M reported good footfalls and sales along with very well behaved customers. Cosmetics and the personal care brands also saw a good turnout. Apart from this electronics and home stuff also saw a good footfall. Customers are adapting to this change in a very positive way, even if the trial rooms facility is yet to become functional. Select CITYWALK is helping brands by reaching out to loyal customers. We are helping brands go Omnichannel and also helping them offer free delivery services to customers,” he added.

The mall, he said, has also put up a disinfection tunnel – approved by DRDO. However, he explained that it was not necessary for every customer to pass through it, though most customers were happy to comply. The time duration of the spray is 15-20 seconds and the tunnels – 7 feet long – are located at three places in the mall.

Rohit Mishra, Centre Director, Pacific Mall, Dehradun: “Unfortunately Dehradun hasn’t been given the clearance from the State Government to open the malls as if now. We are eagerly waiting for it as other cities the State has started the operation and soon we will be operating too. We are ready with all the measures suggested by the Government and SCAI and are waiting for the next update. We are getting enough messages from the customers on our social media platform saying they are eagerly waiting for us to open our doors. The standalone stores in the city are getting good footfalls and we are taking this news very positively.”

Sanjeev Sarin, Centre Director – Mall, Phoenix United, Lucknow: “We witnessed a good response from the crowd in both Lucknow and Bareilly. We did face certain challenges in the first half on the parameters of footfall. But it eventually grew a lot better in the second half. We had around 1,500 entries by 4 pm. Two of the stores in the mall crossed a billing of Rs 1.5 lakh in a day. Customers were very happy, and we got a good response from the media as well for our safety measures. Retailers too welcomed the customers with open arms and were quite happy with the turnout. As far as F&B is concerned, the foodcourt is operational with 50 percent occupancy. As of today, only 4 and 5 outlets were opened and outlets like KFC and Dominos did very well as per first day report. I think in a day or two, there will more turnout in the foodcourt and fine dine-in restaurants. Even salons in the malls were operational with additional security and sanitization measures, with employees using measures PPE kits and disposable towels.”

Sharat Belavadi, Center Head, Inorbit Malls, Hyderabad: “We created a ‘Welcome Gate’ for the consumers and it was appreciated by the shoppers. We witnessed a good number of footfalls in the shape of two-wheelers till 2 pm and later this was replaced by the four-wheelers. The interesting factor here is that the mall is located in the IT hub area, surrounded by offices and despite the employees working from home, we got to see a good turnout. In fact, the first bill in the mall at Shoppers Stop was around Rs 20,000. The mall will be open till 8 pm and our foodcourt is operational as well.”

“As far as initiatives are concerned, we have implemented catchy signages for the consumer so that they follow the guidelines in a more convenient way. Cosmetics and especially salons have done quite well today as they reported around 70 percent business. Salons also created good films which were running on screens in the mall and then went viral on social media. There is no trial in fashion stores, there are kiosks selling interesting masks at the entryway. All staffers are wearing yellow uniforms and smiley masks – they’re called the Yellow Army and cleaning, helping and working to make the experience safer and better for the consumer,” he added.

Premraja, Managing Director, Providence Mall, Puducherry: The day has been quite hectic for us due to the overwhelming response and media attraction. The mall witnessed around 1,500 footfalls, which is a very good start, minus the multiplex. We had customers from Tamil Nadu and it was quite motivating for us. The Apple store witnessed maximum sales. The mall was 70 percent operational and we are hopeful of having 100 percent occupancy in coming days.”

Manish Mehrotra, VP & Centre Head of DLF Mall of India, Noida: “DLF Mall of India is currently prepared to open. The Noida border is in the phase of re-opening and therefore we are waiting for the retailers to execute the process. We are hoping to open up by the weekend and are absolutely ready to win back the trust of the consumers. We are taking certain initiatives for the measures and have developed an app which displays the holding capacity of visitors in the mall from a social distancing perspective. We have calculated the holding capacity of the mall on the basis of social distancing norms and the number is displayed on the app. There are three lights red, green and yellow notifying the holding capacity. Regulators, customers and all stakeholders can be absolutely sure of the counts inside the mall and it will be very helpful for customers as well. We have a nice holding-up area where people can wait for their turn to enter the mall. The good thing about the app is that it can be hosted on a local server. The app will be operational from June 9 in the mall.”

He added that the mall had created a Night Team which looked after the supply chain – loading, unloading stock and stock movement to stores. The team was very alert and vigilant in as far as safety and sanitization was concerned.

Thrinath K, Centre Director, Elante Mall, Chandigarh: The response is beyond expectation. We have already crossed 5,000 footfalls mark and almost 700 cars in the parking. Our parking is full currently. The first reaction which we got from the consumers was satisfaction on the safety parameters. The customers entering the mall are feeling safe and it is a huge achievement for us. We have tied up with the ‘Safety First Campaign’ from Bureau Veritas and as a result, we have huge panels of the display installed in the mall with various creatives.”

He explained that the customers who came in in the morning were keen on buying electronics and apparels and cosmetics. The average of the shoppers was in between 18-35 years with women shoppers leading from the front. “The retailers have registered bills between Rs. 20,000-30,000 on an average basis, with vanilla stores doing between Rs 3 to 4 lakh of sales. All stores have replenished stocks and done well without much discounting,” he added.

In conclusion, the response from shoppers has been very welcoming and satisfactory for the industry, especially in the smaller towns where people are breaking retail catchments and are shopping in a large number. The malls have implemented so many safety measures, both from the technology and the manual perspective. Mall staff groups with different names such as COVID Warriors, Yellow Army etc are working hard to ensure safety and convenience to the shoppers. A new experience level is been offered to the consumers currently and there will be more challenges in store for the mall management staffs on the weekends, when more crowd will be coming in.

2 braces up to open after lockdown

As the capital comes out of months long lockdown, Ambience Mall Vasant Kunj and Gurgaon are gearing up to greet shoppers to the new normal way of shopping. The malls shut down temporarily in March to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the duration of lockdown, only hypermarkets and chemist shops remained operational for essential items. Now as the country moves towards easing the lockdown, Ambience Malls is committed to providing its patrons a safe mall environment that aligns with a high-standard of sanitisation and safety protocols, to protect all who enter the mall from COVID-19.

Ambience Malls has been working rigorously to adhere to health and safety practices. As per the government and SCAI guidelines, all shoppers will have to go through thermal scanning at entry points and sanitize their hands. Hand sanitizers have been made available at multiple points in the mall, including entry/exit, concierge desks and inside stores. To ensure a “no-touch” shopping spree, now there will be infra-red screening instead of frisking. Shoppers are urged to wear face mask at all times and use Arogya Setu app.

To maintain a superior standard of public health, the entire mall, especially high contact areas like the washrooms are being fumigated regularly. All door handles, rails, ATM and other touch points, like trolleys and baskets are wiped with an alcohol-based sanitizer. Floor markings have been introduced to facilitate physical distancing. The mall staff has been educated in COVID-19 prevention measures and equipped with face masks, gloves and PPE suits, as well as a dedicated team of trained professionals are available at all times for deep cleaning interventions. Lifts will be operated by Liftman, with only four persons allowed at one time. Furthermore, the air conditioning in the malls are being treated by disinfecting the vents and maintaining the temperature between 24 – 30 degrees, with an emphasis on circulation of fresh air. Stores are following sanitisation and social distancing protocols by controlling shopper density. Also, provision of contactless cash register has been made to promote smart payments

The malls will be restricting parking to maintain car-to-car distance and sanitize every vehicle that enters the property. In-mall digital mall directories are temporarily disabled; as well as wheelchair, pram and valet services are discontinued. Instead, shoppers are advised to use the Ambience Mall App for a seamless and safe shopping experience. New updates on the app will also allow users to book parking slots, access contactless parking, keep track of real-time foot traffic in the mall, order food and receive notifications on health and safety measures taken in the mall; along with other features like access to the mall directory, in-door navigation, Loyalty Program etc.

Speaking on reopening of malls, , Director, Ambience Malls, said: “As we all adapt to the new normal, Ambience Malls is ready to open its doors to the shoppers once again. We are going above and beyond to apply expert technology and techniques, and control the situation to the best of our abilities. I urge the shoppers to help us in creating a safe and positive shopping experience by complying to the sanitisation and security conventions.”

After a long period of lockdown, as the shoppers look forward to break the monotony of quarantine and indulge in summer shopping, both the malls (Vasant Kunj and Gurgaon) are prepared to provide an excellent quality of service and create a safe space for million smiles, while adhering to high-standards of hygiene and social distancing practices.

3 announces re-opening dates for malls in Delhi & Noida

DLF Shopping Malls, the largest chain of premium shopping malls which draws visitors across Delhi-NCR and other neighbouring areas in the country has announced the re-opening dates for malls in Delhi & Noida.

DLF Avenue, Saket will open to the public on Wednesday, June 10th while DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj on Thursday, June 11th and DLF Mall of India will open on Friday, June 12th. The malls will re-open between 11 am and 8 pm as per curfew hours set by the government, so that consumers feel safe to come in during that time.

Pushpa Bector, Executive Director, DLF Shopping Malls said, “We look forward to welcoming our customers back to the malls as we are fully prepared to open in adherence with the guidelines laid down by the MHA & further local authorities. We wanted to be cautious and have been working closely with all our partner brands to ensure that proper sanitization processes and 6 feet social distancing norms will be followed. At DLF Shopping Malls, the safety of our partners, customers and employees remains our primary concern and our concentrated efforts to re-open our malls is our endeavour at accelerating the journey back to normalcy.”

DLF Shopping Malls has been a frontrunner of unparalleled shopping experience for over a decade. From introducing innovative concepts, hosting celebrities, to launching brand new or exclusive outlets; DLF Shopping Malls have made every visit to the mall a joyous occasion for all.

4LuLu Mall opens with all safety measures in place

LuLu Mall, Kochi reopened for customers today, after 2.5 months of lockdown. The entertainment zones and cinemas continued to remain closed as per Govt guidelines. The Mallmanagement has implemented elaborate Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure a safeshopping environment for customers. On day 1 ofre-opening, the mall welcomed close to 20,000customers.

To be granted entry to the mall, customers are required to submit their name, contact details andlocation. QR codes have also been provided to make this process hassle free. Customers can enter the details digitally and get a barcode, which must be scanned every time the customer visits themall. Installation of the Aarogya Setu app by customers, retailers and staff is also advised by the mall and various retail outlets inside.

Over 90 percent of the retail stores opened on day 1, after undergoing deep cleaning and strict audits. AC units, exhaust fans, other filters and drain lines have all been cleaned to ensure dust levels in the mall is kept at a minimum. Most stores are ensuring no customer contact for merchandise on display. Though several apparel stores have temporarily shut trial room facilities, the operational ones are isolating such merchandise for 28 hours, post which it is disinfected. Jewellery brands are also providing disposable gloves to customers and sterilizing every item post trial. Shoe brands are providing disposable socks for trials. Customers can dine in safely at the restaurants, who have all implemented multiple safety measures including disposable menu and cutlery. A contactless shopping space where people can purchase from the food court by ordering online is being created.Cashless payment options are being encouraged across retail stores. All mall and retail staff are required to wear safety gear.

The common areas in the mall and all customer touch points are being frequently disinfested by a dedicated Sanitization team. A highly qualified Pandemic Response Team is ensuring that all the
guidelines are implemented and is available 24/7 to handle any crisis. The mall has put up messages and stickers marking 1.5 m gaps so customers can easily adhere to social distancing. Regular reminders on social distancing and other mall and Govt. mandates are being given through the mall’s PA system. The mall temperature is maintained between 24 to 30 degree centigrade.
Enhanced fresh air circulation of treated air and ventilation is ensured. Humidity level is maintained at 40 to 70 percent.

Wearing of facemasks is mandatory in the mall. Some of the other guidelines which LuLu Mall has enforced include:
• Persons above 65 years of age, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home
• Sensor based vehicle tyre disinfection at entrances
• Thermal cameras, mandatory temperature screening & checks for all staff and visitors. Anyone showing any flu like symptoms will be denied entry
• Face shields have been provided for staff in contact with customers
• Customers must walk on a disinfectant mat at the mall entrance
• Bags and personal belongings are sanitized at the entrances. Automatic hand sanitizer dispensers have been provided
• Customer entry inside stores will be monitored as per social distancing norms. All in store merchandise and human contact areas will be sanitized after every use
• Isolation room – a small dedicated area on site to isolate potential positive cases, till the time transportation to a hospital is arranged
• Usage of tobacco and other nicotine products are prohibited for visitors and staff within the mall premises.
• On Escalators, one customer is allowed after 2 steps roll over. Permanent distance markers have been placed inside elevators. Elevators will halt on all floors, without manual intervention.
• Social distance to also be maintained in seating areas. All food court tables have been set 1.5 m apart and is sanitized after every use.
• As a safety precaution for both staff and customers, the following services/facilities are temporarily dysfunctional until further notice:
o Pram service
o Prayer hall
o Baby care Room
o Baggage and helmet counters
o Smoking area
• Washroom entry is dictated by social distancing norms. Alternate wash basins and urinals will be blocked to ensure the same. All washrooms and cubicles are sanitized after every use
• Two wheelers need to be parked at 1.5 m distance from each other

In the Hypermarket, all trolleys are being sanitized prior to use and gloves are being provided to every customer before entry. Dedicated bins have been installed for disposal of used gloves/masks.

Mall of Travancore welcomes the guidelines mandated by the government to reopen shopping malls

Mall of Travancore has implemented all the guidelines in our mall to safeguard our customers and employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The set of safety measures we have in place will ensure the safety & hygiene of our visitors. Here is what the mall is doing for a secure shopping experience:
• Installation of sanitizers at multiple locations inside the mall.
• Mandatory temperature checks for all visitors & staff members at the mall entrances.
• Regular sanitization of all touch points inside the mall.
• Each person inside the mall will maintain a 75 square foot radius. A designated social distancing officer will ensure the compliance of social distancing norms.
• Registrations to all the visitors’ basic details including their contact numbers.
• Rearranged seating in the restaurant area to ensure social distancing.

The mall has checked the staffs’ travel history and obtained a self-declaration from them.

In addition, Mall of Travancore has developed a mobile application, which will generate a QR code once the visitor enters their basic details and the shop they are planning to desire to visit. This QR code is used to note down the details and phone numbers of visitors for contact tracing purpose.

5Junction Mall Durgapur welcomes all patrons for shopping

Junction Mall Durgapur has implemented several measures in-mall to ensure safety and hygiene of the customers, retailer and staff members:
1. Visual displays of of do’s and don’ts at all prominent places for the customers including floors in common areas.
2. Social distancing markings at the entrance, periphery and all common areas inside the mall.
3. Shoe sanitising mat at the entrance.
4. Installation of touchless hand sanitisers at every entry and other prominent locations.
5. Temperature check at the entrance through thermal gun.
6. Entry will not be permitted without face mask or face cover.
7. Checking of Aarogya Setu app before entering the mall.
8. Encouraging Contactless payment at parking bay.
9. Restrictions on the usage of lifts and escalators.
10. Frequent sanitisation at all touch points like escalator belts, railings, lift buttons, washrooms, door handles etc.
11. A mobile squad to control any kind of non-adherence to the guidelines.
12. Isolation room and medical team formation to address any kind of emergency situation
13. Only 50% seating arrangements at the restaurants and food court.
14. Encouraging contactless order and payment at food court outlets.
15. Installation of contactless soap dispensers in washrooms.

The first day of operation in unlock 1.0 initially started in a low pace but gradually it picked up very well and have experienced a good footfall considering the situation. Customers were happy to see the efforts and initiatives taken by the mall to ensure safety and hygiene of their shopping place. Some of the customers were eagerly waiting for their favourite store(s) to open expressed their happiness with us.