Select CITYWALK reopened on June 8 with strict SOPs as per government directives to ensure utmost safety, sanitization and social distancing as required for the post-COVID-19 environment. The mall does not just ensure that visitors have a warm and welcoming retail experience at the shopping centre but has also introduced services to benefit consumers across Delhi-NCR, even if they wish not to visit yet.
As part of the ‘new normal’, it has introduced a suite of services to ensure comfort and convenience to consumers by offering a seamless retail experience. These services offer hassle-free access to products and a process with minimal human interaction.
The new services portfolio offers concierge services for all queries, contactless ordering and home delivery services, personal shopper service, curbside pickup and on the anvil is the introduction of the online shopping guide.
In a candid conversation with Shopping Centre New Bureau, Yogeshwar Sharma, Executive Director & CEO, Select CITYWALK shares how the pandemic has changed shopping centre industry, expectations from the festive season, what the future holds and a lot more.
Excerpts from the interview:
What steps are you taking to create a safe shopping environment?
As a responsible public space, Select CITYWALK has implemented stringent measures keeping the safety aspect of shoppers across not just its premises, but also at the retail outlets, restaurants, food court and parking spaces. We are undertaking measures complying with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) detailed by the Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) and the guidelines by Health Ministry.
How are you redefining shopping experiences?
We have created shopping experiences keeping in mind comfort and convenience of consumers. It is a seamless blend of offline and online experiences or phygital as the word has been coined.
How have you changed your food court operations?
We have launched contactless ordering at My Square, which aims at providing customers with the best of services looking at their convenience and comfort maintaining safety and hygiene. Launching a service, which makes consumers order their favourite meal, will be a satisfaction for shopping centre like us.
What steps are you taking to attract consumers back to Select CITYWALK?
Consumers now prefer experiences that bring them closer to products and not people, they prefer virtual tours and personal shoppers instead of stepping out too often to make the purchase. This evolution will continue for the next few months.
As part of the ‘New Normal’, Select CITYWALK has introduced a suite of services to ensure comfort and convenience to consumers by offering a seamless retail experience. These services offer hassle-free access to products and a process with minimal human interaction.
Have you observed any changes in the consumption trends? If yes, please elaborate.
The pandemic has resulted in a change in consumer’s attitudes, behaviour and purchasing habits. During the lockdown, purchases were centred around the most basic needs as people were shopping more consciously, buying local and were embracing digital commerce. As unlock 5.0 gives relaxation to the shoppers, we can predict shoppers will come out for shopping for the upcoming festive season.
How different retail categories are performing? Which category is attracting the maximum consumers are why?
All lifestyle retail categories are performing well. Personal shopping services have made it easier for consumers to pick up more from apparel, wellness and grooming categories.
Which are the potential new categories/ change in mix for retailers?
With ever-evolving needs of the consumers and with the changing shopping patterns both Indian and international brands are doing well. Brands are aware of what their customers want and are catering to their requirements at this time to make sure they flourish.
The potential categories at Select CITYWALK are apparel, both niche and mainstream. We have put together a curated collection for Autumn-Winter 2020 with all our brands for the festive season shopping.
Select CITYWALK has always brought customers the chance to experience world-class brands across various categories. Recently, we have introduced international brands like Decathalon and Armani EA7, which offer best of the collections in sports and fitness.
Has the real estate requirement changed – drive throughs/ smaller stores/ store network optimization?
The real estate has changed a bit for retail stores and the food court, mainly to enable social distancing norms. We have recently introduced curbside pick-ups. Store sizes remain the same, while tweaks in design and markings have been done to ensure the necessary social distancing of 1.5 meters required as per government norms. The newly relaunched Zara store is actually significantly bigger, offering more move around space for customers. In that sense, there have been changes but none are structural.
How can shopping centres be redefined by the use of technology in post-COVID-19 times?
Technology plays a vital role at the times of pandemic as it minimises direct contact of human and ensures safety. Select CITYWALK has continuously worked on innovation in the new normal to be closer to our customers and we are very sure that the Digital Shopping Catalogue put together by the shopping centre will be much appreciated as it brings home the best of Select CITYWALK. It’s a trip to the shopping centre, without venturing out of the house, with all the convenience, ease and delight of shopping for the best brands.
The Digital Catalogue currently features categories ranging from beauty, home, apparel, shoes and bags and will be updated with a few other categories soon to provide a seamless shopping experience to all our consumers.
Customers can send their product order with product code to the Select CITYWALK WhatsApp business number and get the products delivered through the home delivery service. It’s simple, it’s easy on the eye and it’s a whole lot of fun as well.
Select CITYWALK also launched the contactless ordering at My Square, which aims at providing customers with the best of services looking at their convenience and comfort maintaining safety and hygiene. Launching a service, which makes consumers order their favourite meal, will be a satisfaction for shopping centre like us.
Knowing how My Square used to be Delhi’s favourite hotspot for meals and get togethers, we want consumers to feel the same post the unlock, while they trust us with all our services and maintenance, we want them to feel safe while ordering food too.
Share with us the technologies that you have recently implemented.
We have introduced technologies like Digital Shopping Catalogue, WhatsApp business number for delivery of products, contactless dining, etc.
Can shopping centres thrive in ‘Six Feet Economy’?
The six feet economy has created a churn in the retail environment, bifurcating consumer goods into ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ categories. Yet, there is a returning consumer sentiment, which indicates that we will see the road to recovery soon. There will be more serious buyers as opposed to general walk-ins or window shoppers, thus helping in better conversion. Also, with the help of technology, AI and processes we do see shopping centres make their own space in this economy as well.
Post pandemic, how can we see the shopping centre industry changing?
Post pandemic, we see the shopping centre industry changing and the emphasis will be on omnichannel retail. So, people no longer will think of retail as online and offline, but they think of it as seamless integration between the two.
How are you gearing up for the post-pandemic festivities?
We are all set to welcome customers for the upcoming festive season. Considering real-time scenarios and requirements, we are working on making this festive season special for our customers. We are putting together an amalgamation of festive decorations and special shopping schemes and will add small scale events and exhibitions in line with the government regulations.
Will the festive season bring back the sheen lost by the pandemic?
Yes definitely, the festive season will go a long way in bringing back consumer sentiment. It may not be at pre-COVID-19 levels but there will be a significant increase as compared to the past few months.
What are your expectations from the last quarter of 2020?
With business gearing up its speed, there has been a hope of recovery for the retailers in the mall. As part of the ‘new normal’, Select CITYWALK has introduced a suite of services to ensure comfort and convenience to consumers by offering a seamless retail experience. By looking at the constant planning and execution to fight the pandemic, we expect a speedy recovery and growth in business from the last quarter of 2020.